Skip to content

What next for Aston Martin?

Aston Martin has announced that it is to halt production of its 'Cygnet' city car. Production of the Cygnet started in 2011 but only 150 were sold. The car was based on the Toyota iQ and substantially reworked by Aston Martin to create a luxury supermini, costing three times as much as the iQ at around £32,000. At first glance it is hard to see why a luxury sports car maker would produce such a car.

Aston Martin has announced that it is to halt production of its 'Cygnet' city car. Production of the Cygnet started in 2011 but only 150 were sold. The car was based on the Toyota iQ and substantially reworked by Aston Martin to create a luxury supermini, costing three times as much as the iQ at around £32,000. At first glance it is hard to see why a luxury sports car maker would produce such a car. Aston Martin said that it wanted to tap into wealthy city dwellers, who wanted the prestige of an Aston Martin badge and the comfort of a luxury car but needed it to be easy to park and drive on busy city streets.

Without any of Aston Martin's performance characteristics, however, the car failed to attract an audience, as IHS automotive analyst, Ian Fletcher, explains: "The Cygnet was intended to catapult the brand into a new market, but at roughly double the price of many competing cars in that segment it was misjudged by Aston Martin. The premium supermini market is a good place to be at the moment but Aston got it wrong in thinking putting a grill and a fancy interior on what was basically a Toyota iQ would make people buy it."

In other ways, though, the Cygnet may have done its job. Some observers feel that Aston Martin's move into the sector had less to do with identifying a gap in the market and more to do with identifying a solution to its emissions problems. EU legislation limits the amount of CO2 emissions that any manufacturer's cars are allowed to emit. This, however, is calculated on an average across the range. As a small producer, making only large engine supercars, Aston Martin was never going to make that cut but introducing the Cygnet to the range dropped the average nicely.

Now that they have quit the city car market, Aston Martin will have to focus on its traditional sector. The company has struggled since the 2008 economic downturn and has been unable to replicate the sales success of other UK car manufacturers. Prestige UK marques have done exceptionally well, with brands such as Jaguar Land Rover, Rolls-Royce and Bentley all enjoying booming export sales. At the same time, sales of Aston Martin cars have actually declined, from 4,200 units in 2011 to 3,800 cars in 2012. Problems are in part due to lack of investment from its indebted owner, Kuwaiti finance company, Investment Dar, who are struggling with debts of $3.7 billion.

Posted by on

Back to October 2013

Back to top