Aston martin ceo andy palmer brings ideas from his nissan days to superluxury niche gas tax nj

The first step was to put funding in place to launch one new model at least every year, even if that meant Aston was "geared up to its ears" in terms of debt, as CFO Mark Wilson memorably put it. But that wasn’t going to be sustainable. "You don’t fund car companies with debt, you fund car companies with equity," he said.

As a brand, Aston Martin speaks of wealth and opulence, but at its headquarters in Gaydon in central England, the bean counters went to work. Palmer announced his intention for Aston to be "world-class in terms of costs." Wilson was ordered to take what he called a "good hard scrub" of SG&A (sales, general and administration) and Aston cut 295 nonmanufacturing jobs from a total workforce of 2,100.

Expenses were also clamped. Flying back from the 2015 Geneva auto show, Palmer was spotted in economy class. Suppliers were scrutinized. Aston aimed to take 10 percent out of the parts bill every year, something that was common practice elsewhere.

"Andy has done it in the big OEM world where there’s a constant cadence of taking out fractions and fractions. If you’re selling 5,000 a year, a £10 reduction per car is worth having," Wilson said. "That wasn’t happening in the company before."

"The extra money you put in and the extra production you get out is not linear. Normally it’s better to build a new factory, in my experience," he said. However, Palmer played a smart game to wring financial support from the U.K. government, who recognized the PR value of keeping Aston manufacturing in the U.K. when local investment was thin on the ground.

Palmer also promised to apply "more mathematics" to the marketing ("It goes well beyond sponsoring a Bond film every three years") and diversify the customer base. He pointed out that in the first 100 years, half the 70,000 cars Aston sold in total stayed in the U.K. and only 3,500 were bought by women.

Perhaps Aston’s greatest asset other than the brand itself is its Daimler relationship. Daimler supplies Aston’s V-8 turbocharged engine but more crucially the electrical architecture that allows a small company such as Aston to stay up to the date with infotainment, active safety and related legislation. "It’s practically impossible to develop that ourselves," Palmer has said.

Aston has cut its debt from 3.8 times its earnings in 2016 to 2.1 times last year, the company announced, and is investigating whether to take ownership public via a share offering. But Aston watchers are wondering how some of Palmer’s grander plans — for example, relaunching Lagonda as a standalone electric brand — can be done without a larger partner.

Why? Because they’ve all had cars designed around their specific lifestyle and needs. Their contentment is illusory however, as these people don’t exist. They’re all "archetype" customers who were dreamed up to give Aston’s designers a clearer idea of who they were designing for.

He arrived as Aston Martin was flickering back to life after one of its many hard resets, and its backers wanted an executive with the experience and vision to ensure this time the lights would stay on. Palmer, an engineer-turned-marketing guru whose raw instinct saw him promoted to Carlos Ghosn’s right-hand man in his 23 years at Nissan, was that guy.

Three and a half years later and Palmer has just launched his second new model, the Vantage entry sports car, from a pipeline stuffed with fresh metal. Earlier this year he was able to announce a nine-year sales high for 2017 at 5,117 cars, and his first annual profit.

The first step was to put funding in place to launch one new model at least every year, even if that meant Aston was "geared up to its ears" in terms of debt, as CFO Mark Wilson memorably put it. But that wasn’t going to be sustainable. "You don’t fund car companies with debt, you fund car companies with equity," he said.

As a brand, Aston Martin speaks of wealth and opulence, but at its headquarters in Gaydon in central England, the bean counters went to work. Palmer announced his intention for Aston to be "world-class in terms of costs." Wilson was ordered to take what he called a "good hard scrub" of SG&A (sales, general and administration) and Aston cut 295 nonmanufacturing jobs from a total workforce of 2,100.

Expenses were also clamped. Flying back from the 2015 Geneva auto show, Palmer was spotted in economy class. Suppliers were scrutinized. Aston aimed to take 10 percent out of the parts bill every year, something that was common practice elsewhere.

"Andy has done it in the big OEM world where there’s a constant cadence of taking out fractions and fractions. If you’re selling 5,000 a year, a £10 reduction per car is worth having," Wilson said. "That wasn’t happening in the company before."

"The extra money you put in and the extra production you get out is not linear. Normally it’s better to build a new factory, in my experience," he said. However, Palmer played a smart game to wring financial support from the U.K. government, who recognized the PR value of keeping Aston manufacturing in the U.K. when local investment was thin on the ground.

Palmer also promised to apply "more mathematics" to the marketing ("It goes well beyond sponsoring a Bond film every three years") and diversify the customer base. He pointed out that in the first 100 years, half the 70,000 cars Aston sold in total stayed in the U.K. and only 3,500 were bought by women.

Perhaps Aston’s greatest asset other than the brand itself is its Daimler relationship. Daimler supplies Aston’s V-8 turbocharged engine but more crucially the electrical architecture that allows a small company such as Aston to stay up to the date with infotainment, active safety and related legislation. "It’s practically impossible to develop that ourselves," Palmer has said.

Aston has cut its debt from 3.8 times its earnings in 2016 to 2.1 times last year, the company announced, and is investigating whether to take ownership public via a share offering. But Aston watchers are wondering how some of Palmer’s grander plans — for example, relaunching Lagonda as a standalone electric brand — can be done without a larger partner.