The Financial Times has recently hinted that Aston Martin could produce the "Rapide" abroad, a 4-door saloon car scheduled for launch sometimes in 2009.
Aston Martin has stayed muted about this option, but that would come as no surprise to me.
I can't put a hand on an interview that Ulrich Bez, Astons's CEO, gave some time ago, but he was crystal-clear : he was basically explaining that everything could be outsourced in the luxury automobile business as long as one controls the management of the brand and its image !
This is obviously so true. Aston was producing 50 cars a year in the mid 90s, less than a thousand in 2000, and should now target about 8 or 9.000 in the coming years. No more than that to retain some exclusivity.
This incredible ramp up has been possible because there's a strong brand. Nothing would have been possible if the brand was weak, didn't mean anything to customers, had no heritage and values associated to it.
So, it's very right to claim that the management of the brand is the only crucial area that then leverages everything and is probably the only area a luxury manufacturer should absolutely controls.