Thursday, 25 February 2016
Aston Martin to build DBX in Wales from 2020
Cars have not been made in Wales, in the UK, since the days of Gilbern Sports Cars Ltd., which built glass fibre cars in Pontypridd, Glamorgan between 1959 and 1973. Former butcher Giles Smith and German engineer Bernard Friese joined forces to found the company.But that could change in 2020 when the Aston Martin DBX crossover vehicle begins to roll off the assembly line at a former RAF base at St. Athan, in Barry, Glamorgan.
In an unusual move for a high-quality vehicle manufacturer, Aston Martin has confirmed St. Athan as the location for its second manufacturing facility. The company claims this is a “significant new investments towards its long-term future in the UK”.
Executives in deciding to build the new crossover vehicle in Wales, clearly have been thinking “out of the box” in choosing not to build it closer to Gaydon’s headquarters and manufacturing facility. DBX is expected to retail at £160,000. Sites in the US had been considered.
"It takes 200 hours to make a car and to do that we need skilled labour and we have got that skilled labour in Wales, in Great Britain and that played a big part in our decision."
Palmer said there were a number of reasons why St. Athan had been chosen for the new site.
He openly admits the Welsh offer “wasn't financially enticing but shareholders had to understand the balance that had to be made on quality, cost and time, and St. Athan was on time," he said.
Palmer added: "We don't have to build a building. It won through in terms of quality of workforce and supplies and relationship with the government of Wales."
Part of the secret of the deal lies in the £113 million Red Dragon super hanger which was supposed to deliver hundreds of aircraft repair jobs.
The value of the deal is understood to be in the hundreds of millions of pounds, although perhaps not surprisingly, the Welsh government will not comment on the level of its support.
As part of the package, the deal includes a skills academy intended to make St. Athan and the Vale of Glamorgan “a centre of excellence”.
However, the sheer logistics and challenges associated with a combined and near simultaneous facility and product launch planned to take place in Glamorgan and a head office and lead design and manufacturing unit in Warwickshire 150 miles (240km) and 2.5 hours distant cannot be ignored.
DBX (pictured below) is expected to start as a gasoline vehicle before being developed into a hybrid and all-electric 4x4.
Meanwhile, Aston’s Welsh development leaves Gaydon as the production location of next-generation sports car, the DB11. Production of the recently announced all-electric RapidE also will be located at Gaydon, starting in 2018.
It will be recalled that not so many years ago, as we have reported, a former chief executive of Aston Martin decided that the Rapide should be built by Magna International in Graz, Austria, only later to to withdrawn to the UK for production at some significant cost to Aston Martin.
Commenting of the St. Athan deal, ”