Why Aston Martin sells a $99,900 car is a big deal

Yesterday we reported Aston Martin makes an astonishing decision to sell the 2015 Vantage GT for less than $100k.

Some news are claiming this to be a good deal. But we say, this is actually a big deal. We do not mean whether you should go and buy one, instead we view this incident from other aspects.

To US market Vantage GT is identical to the European market Vantage N430 special edition. In UK, the base Vantage’s MSRP is GBP 84,995; and the N430 is selling for GBP 89,995. The base Vantage V8 MSRP in US starts from $122,400. So how come the better equipped GT trim is now selling for significantly less money in the US market?

Financially speaking, there are usually two reasons that you will lower your product’s price significantly: 1. you want more people can afford it, buy it and then discover how good your product is; 2. you desperately need cash to keep your business running.

We know the Aston Martin brand is famous and we can imaging how good of their cars are even without driving one. So the above #1 possibility sounds not so possible at this time. Considering the auto maker’s the huge loss during the last couple years ($33,800,000 for 2011, $39,200,000 for 2012, unkown yet for 2013), we are more incline to believe the cash shortage theory. We suspect that without enough cash inflow, Aston Martin may not even be able to keep the Vantage production line running, long term speaking. A cash depletion rate at 8-digit-number annually is not a good sign for a business that does not has a huge conglomerate mother company as backing and support.

On the other hand, technically speaking, without enough R&D, Aston Martin cars are already missing lots of new technologies which should be very common in the industry.

Take the Vantage coupe for example, its major advantage is in the aluminum car body, that’s it. Its V8 engine, which was developed by Jaguar (AJ-V8)  nine years ago, is quite outdated from today’s point of view. The AJ-V8 engine can be traced back to as early as 1996, so you see how old this engine’s architecture is.


The AJ-V8 in the Vantage has some advanced features though, such as closed deck engine block, pressed-in cylinder liners (instead of cast-in liners in other AJ-V8 engines), and dry-sump lubrication. But it does lack many modern naturally aspirated engine technologies. For example it does not support fuel direct injection, it has no variable valve lifting, and even the most basic valvetrain treatment: variable timing, the Aston Martin engine has it on the intake valves only, while the Toyota Camry’s engine already has dual-VVT on both the intake and exhaust valves.

The outdated design of the Vantage V8 engine creates a significant gap between its competitor. Let’s take the Maserati 4.7L V8 engine which was used on the GranTurismo for examlpe. These two engines are both naturally aspirated, they have the same displacement and similar compression ratio. The Maserati makes 454hp and 384 lb-ft torque; while the Aston Martin GT only makes 430hp and 361 lb-ft. The performance difference is apparent.

In fact Aston Martin also knows its shortcomings, so it is now collaborating with Mercedes-Benz AMG. Aston Martin uses 5% of its equity shares (without voting rights) in exchange for  Mercedes’ help to develop the next generation V8 engine. Now Mercedes-Benz also sits on the board of the Aston Martin Holdings. We must wait at least another 2 years to see the new AMG-developed engine.

Anyway, this is a good move for Aston Martin, and in fact it is also the best action it can take at this moment.

Now back to the $99,900-MSRP 2015 Vantage GT, do you still think it is underprice?

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