Aston Martin to relaunch Lagonda brand

AFP
First Published: 16:17 IST(18/10/2013)
Last Updated: 16:24 IST(18/10/2013)
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The British supercar company is looking to extend its model line with Lagonda-badged luxury saloons and even SUVs.

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Lagonda, the sportscar company bought by Aston Martin some 66 years ago, is to get a new lease of life as its parent company looks to boost sales and break into other premium car markets.

Speaking to Drive, Aston Martin's CEO, Dr. Ulrich Bez, said: "I am confident in the future we will see a Lagonda on the road," but indicated that the first new cars to carry Lagonda branding probably won't be making an appearance for at least five years.

Aston Martin has been toying with the idea for some time and in 2009 showcased a Lagonda concept SUV at the Geneva Motor Show. However, that was when the company was still under Ford's ownership and had unfettered access to the US automaker's parts bins and R&D facilities.

Since regaining its independence, Aston Martin has struggled in the face of increasing supercar competition from Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini, McLaren and Mercedes and its most recent accounts show that while the rest of the motoring industry is in rude health, it actually made a loss over the past 12 months.

Aston needs to reinvigorate its line-up and it needs to innovate if it is to continue to compete with the best of the rest, and a partnership with Mercedes Benz and its engine maker, AMG, is a very big step in the right direction. Breaking into the growing luxury SUV market seems to be another key step to profitability. However, when pressed, Bez was quick to stress that neither the Aston nor Lagonda brands have anything to do with utility. "We don't make utility," he said. "You do not take an Aston Martin or Lagonda to the shop to buy a fridge and I don't think this is what utility means to us. It has to have a different kind of comfort and useability."

Let's hope for Aston Martin's sake that the resulting car is nothing like the last Lagonda-branded vehicle the company built.

The Aston Martin Lagonda, which launched in 1974 (immediately after coming out of bankruptcy) was throughout its 16-year lifespan the world's most expensive production car. As well as being one of the most costly cars ever built, it was also one of the most technologically advanced, using TV screens rather than dashboard dials and a computerized engine management system.

As such it was incredibly unreliable and thanks to the complexities of the construction process took up to three years to reach each perspective owner. In all, just 645 were produced and during that time the car won a host of unwanted accolades including an appearance on the Time magazine list of "The 50 Worst Cars of All Time."


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