Aston Martin is hoping new leadership can help turn around its fortunes, as it fights against falling sales as well as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The shake-up at British brand under the control of new chairman, Lawrence Stroll, has continued this week, with Mercedes-AMG chief, Tobias Moers, drafted in to replace Dr Andy Palmer as CEO. Palmer has been in charge of the company since 2014 but since Stroll led a consortium to take control of the brand he has implemented some significant changes to halt its decline.
Under Palmer's leadership Aston Martin introduced the new DB11 and Vantage models, to refresh its key products, while also investing heavily in establishing the brand's first-ever SUV, the DBX. He also partnered with Red Bull Racing to bring the Aston Martin brand back into Formula 1 as a sponsor, as well as joining forces with Red Bull Technologies to create the Valkyrie hypercar; which is the forerunner to a range of new mid-engine sports cars that is hoped will help it better rival the likes of Ferrari and Porsche.
However, during Palmer's time the company floated in 2018 and since then its share price has plummeted, at one point being down 94 per cent on its initial value. Global sales of Aston Martins were down more than 20 per cent in 2019, before the current pandemic brought the car industry to a halt.
“The Board has determined that now is the time for new leadership to deliver our plans,” Stroll said in a statement issued by the company.
The appointment of Moers has already seen a 27 per cent spike in the share price. The German comes to Aston Martin after a seven-year stint as CEO of AMG, where he oversaw significant growth of Mercedes' performance division, both in terms of models and profits.
“Throughout his career he has delivered product expansion, strengthened brand positioning and improved profitability,” Stroll explained. “He is the right leader for Aston Martin Lagonda as we implement our strategy for the business to achieve its full potential. Our ambition for the company is significant, clear and only matched by our determination to succeed.”
The appointment of Moers potentially strengthens the ties between Aston Martin and Mercedes at a crucial time in its development. Mercedes' parent company Daimler has a five per cent stake in Aston Martin and AMG provides its engines, transmissions and electrical systems for the current Vantage, DB11 and DBX. However, Palmer has already overseen the development of an all-new turbocharged V6 engine and hybrid system that should replace the AMG-built twin-turbo V8 in the British cars.
As well as the new engine Moers will have to now navigate Aston Martin out of its sales decline, get the DBX production and delivered ramped up amid the coronavirus crisis and the production of the Valkyrie and the development of the mid-engine range, which will include the new Vallhala and next-generation Vanquish.
While it sounds like a daunting task, Moers is looking forward to it, saying: “I am truly excited to be joining Aston Martin Lagonda at this point of its development. I have always had a passion for performance cars and relish the chance to work for this iconic brand which I was close to on the technical side at the beginning of the partnership between the two companies.”
Moers will also have to guide the future of the brand in F1, with Stroll committed to rebranding his other automotive investment, the Racing Point team, as the factory Aston Martin squad in 2021. Stroll has made it clear he intends to turn the new Aston Martin Racing F1 team into a success, even convincing Mercedes F1 chief, Toto Wolff, to take a small stake in the company amid persistent rumours he is trying to lure the Austrian to head up the operation.