Aston Martin: thank (or blame) China for DBX SUVby Ronan Glon
China made the DBX possible.
Aston Martin, like nearly all of its rivals, has pledged to enter the SUV segment in the coming years. It's expected to introduce a high-riding soft-roader named DBX in late 2019. The company says enthusiasts have the Chinese market to thank (or blame) for its expansion.
"The DBX SUV exists because of the booming China market. Would Aston Martin have done an SUV if not for the China market? Probably not," chief executive Andy Palmer told WardsAuto in an interview. He cited the local success of the Bentley Bentayga as a source of inspiration.
The luxury sports car segment in China remains small; Aston sold 350 cars last year, a figure that places it in the number two spot behind Ferrari. There's little demand for a coupe or a convertible and few buyers consider driving dynamics a priority. Millionaires and billionaires want luxury SUVs, preferably ones that drive themselves at least part of the time, which explains why companies who would have never considered entering the segment 10 years ago to avoid diluting their image are racing to put a car on silts.
"China is important for our future because we are booming here," Palmer noted. Rivals like Ferrari, Bentley, and Lamborghini have all reached a similar conclusion. Rolls-Royce couldn't resist surfing the SUV wave; neither could Lotus and Maserati. McLaren remains the exception to the rule.
Palmer added products like the DBX "have to work in China," so it's important to design them with the preferences of Chinese customers in mind. The partnership Aston Martin recently created with the College of Design and Innovation at the Tongji University in Shanghai will help product planners offer interior and exterior colors that resonate with Chinese buyers.
Aston Martin believes it can sell between 3,000 and 4,000 examples of the upcoming DBX annually. At least a third of those sales will come from China.
Note: Aston Martin DBX concept pictured.