Aston Martin sales dropped sharply in 2020 as a result of the pandemic, but strong demand for the new DBX SUV sparked a recovery in the final quarter.
The British firm counted 4150 retail sales across the year, down 32% on 2019, and wholesale volume – sales of cars to dealers – dropped 42% from 5862 units to 3394.
As a result, annual revenue declined to £611.8m from £980.5m year-on-year, and Aston Martin made an operating loss of £323m – though this includes £98m of “adjusting operating items, largely the impairment of capitalised R&D due to technology and cycle plan changes”.
The new DBX SUV accounted for more than a quarter of total sales, with 1171 units sold in Q4, the marque’s strongest quarter in 2020. Along with the sale of 32 ‘special’ models, up from 10 in Q3, and a “reduction in total customer and retail financing support”, Aston saw a 3% quarterly revenue growth and positively adjusted its EBITDA forecast for the year.
Total cash reserves of £489m at the end of the year was a significant boost over December 2019’s £108m, which the firm attributes to “refinancing to strengthen financial resilience and support growth ambitions”. Net debt was down year-on-year from £988m to £727m, with shareholder equity rising from £330m to £804m, following billionaire Lawrence Stroll’s acquisition of a 16.7% stake in Aston Martin in January.
New CEO Tobias Moers has given the first details of a new ‘Project Horizon’ strategy to “drive growth, agility and efficiency” in the wake of the pandemic. Priorities for the firm this year include beginning deliveries of the long-awaited Valkyrie hypercar in the second half, and launching new derivatives of the crucial DBX in the third quarter.
In support of the revitalisation plan, Moers said: “We have further strengthened the management team adding experienced hires with strong luxury and automotive backgrounds. We also have significant benefit from the global reach of the Aston Martin Cognizant F1TM team from this season to further drive brand awareness. With these actions and the re-financing, we have secured the right team, partner and funding to deliver our transformational growth plans to create a world-class luxury automaker.”
He offered no clues as to future products due this year, but said line-up expansion plans are “underpinned by the landmark strategic cooperation agreement signed with Mercedes-Benz AG giving access to customisable and world-class technology, including hybrid and electrified powertrains”. Mercedes now owns a 15% stake in Aston Martin, giving the British firm access to vital hybrid and electric powertrain technology and substantially reducing development costs.
By 2024/2025, Aston plans to boost wholesales to 10,000 units – an increase of nearly 200% over 2020 – for revenues of £2bn and a £500m pre-tax profit. In line with that ambition, it will first embark on an “aggressive” reduction of dealer stock – expected to be complete by Q2 2021 – and swell the popular DBX range with a new variant in Q3. As previously reported by Autocar, this is likely to be either a rakish roofed version to rival the Porsche Cayenne Coupé, or a long-wheelbase seven-seater.