Development has formally begun on two all-new mid-engined Aston Martin supercars, with the Vanquish and Valhalla becoming live engineering projects, company boss Tobias Moers has confirmed to Autocar.
In his first interview since becoming CEO in August last year, the former Mercedes-AMG chief outlined his Project Horizon vision for the British brand.
This includes “more than 10 cars” before the end of 2023, the cancellation of some of the previous management’s projects – including a bespoke new V6 engine and relaunching Lagonda as a super-luxury EV brand – and a push towards improving the quality and dynamic performance of Aston models, which is already yielding results.
The Ferrari F8 Tributo-rivalling Vanquish and more potent Valhalla are the flagship projects of this new era for Aston. Both were first seen as concept cars in 2019 and were planned to use the new V6. With this project now cancelled, the supercars will instead use hybrid drivetrains sourced from AMG as part of an expanded technical partnership between Aston and Mercedes’ performance arm.
“Both will now look different but cool still and better,” said Moers of the Vanquish and Valhalla. Regarding the V6, he said: “I found a concept engine that wasn’t Euro 7- capable. It would have taken another huge investment that was really too big to bring to life.”
He continued: “We shouldn’t put money into that. We should instead put money into electrification, batteries and the expansion of our portfolio. The intention is to be a self-sustaining company, although always with a partnership.”
Such a goal is “all possible” to be achieved by 2024 or 2025, according to Moers.
He said that the expansion will start with the launch of the Valkyrie hypercar in the second half of this year in road and track forms, before a third variant – likely to be a convertible – follows in 2022.
With a V12 engine, active aerodynamics and active suspension, the Valkyrie is set to break many records for a road car, achieving Formula 1 levels of performance. It has been developed with Red Bull, which Moers said is “really good” to work with, even after the two severed their F1 tie-up at the end of last year when Aston owner Lawrence Stroll turned his Racing Point team into a Gaydon works entry.
Beyond that, the Aston DBX SUV is set to spawn a second variant in September, understood to be a straight-six-powered mild-hybrid version to serve as the entry-level model.
Another variant will join it in April 2022, targeted at “one player from Italy that has the market too comfortable at the moment” – understood to be a high-powered V8 version to take on the Lamborghini Urus.
Moers said there will also be “a broader line-up for the Vantage and DB11” – something that has already begun with the new Vantage F1 Edition, a significantly more powerful and focused model that can lap the Nürburgring 13 seconds faster than the standard Porsche 911 rival.
“You could do a 2+2 and an SUV probably with a similar platform,” Moers said.
An electric sports car is expected from 2025, when Aston starts to replace its front-engined models. “You do the facelifts, then it’s three or four years and you’re fully electrified,” said Moers.
An electric version of the DBX is understood to be set to arrive at a similar time.
Aston makes production gains
Aston Martin boss Tobias Moers says there has been a “double-digit” improvement in quality since his arrival at the company last summer, because he has overhauled its manufacturing process.
The number of faults per car has been reduced at pre-delivery inspections, while the manufacturing process has been streamlined, with all three front-engined models now built on the same production line at Gaydon, instead of on two, and fewer parts held in stock next to the line.
The now-vacant second line is set to be used for Aston’s new mid-engined models, while production of the imminent Valkyrie hypercar has also been taken in-house at Gaydon.
All regular painting is now done in the new paint shop at St Athan. This has an annual capacity for 12,000 cars per year, which is in excess of the 10,000 target that Aston had set for 2024/2025.
Moers joked that “the one thing I’m never going to need investment for is facilities”, in reference to how many Aston can access but has now rationalised.