Aston Martin unveils crossover coupe to appeal to women

Mathieu Rosemain
Bloomberg News

Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd. unveiled a crossover coupe as the British sports-car maker seeks to return to profit by appealing to women and buyers in emerging markets.

The all-wheel-drive DBX concept, which debuted Tuesday at the Geneva International Motor Show, is equipped with electric motors and sports large wheels, narrow headlights and a gaping grille. While the car’s not ready for sale, Aston Martin plans to add a crossover in a departure from its lineup of sports coupes like the $280,000 Vanquish.

“The DBX Concept is more than a thought starter for us and for our customers,” Chief Executive Officer Andy Palmer said. “We will, in due course, be entering a car into the new DBX space.”

Aston Martin’s move is part of a surge in elite crossovers, as high-end brands respond to demand from wealthy consumers in China and other emerging markets, where sports cars are less popular. Bentley will present the Bentayga later this year, which the British marque boasts will be the world’s most luxurious and expensive SUV. Maserati is finalizing the Levante, and Jaguar will start selling its first crossover, the F-PACE, in 2016. They’re all following Porsche, which now sells more SUVs than pure sports cars.

The expansion is also key for Aston Martin, which aims to boost sales to 7,000 vehicles a year by 2021 from about 4,000 now. But Palmer said the company doesn’t want more volume than that in order to protect its exclusivity.

Aston Martin is one of the few global luxury-auto brands that’s not part of a larger group. Porsche, Bentley and Lamborghini are all part of Volkswagen AG, while BMW AG makes Rolls-Royce cars and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV owns Maserati.

Aston Martin is controlled by Italian private-equity firm Investindustrial, with Kuwaiti companies Investment Dar and Adeem Investment Co. as its other main shareholders. Palmer said the company’s shareholding structure is stable and that the company intends to remain independent.