Aston Martin to Gain Tech from Closer Mercedes-Benz Ties

  • Aston Martin announced today that its tie-up with Mercedes-Benz will increase, with the German automaker raising its stake from 2.3 to 20 percent.
  • In exchange, Mercedes will be sharing more technology, especially electrified powertrains, with Aston Martin.
  • We’ve heard from Aston insiders that they are interested in the flat-plane-crank V-8 that AMG has developed for its GT Black Series.

    News that Mercedes is set to take a sizable stake in Aston Martin is no great surprise for those who have been watching the British company’s waning fortunes over the past few years. Aston already uses both AMG’s 4.0-liter V-8 engine and Daimler’s electrical architecture; since April, former AMG boss Tobias Moers has also been Aston CEO.

    Mercedes already has a small stake in Aston, currently 2.3 percent, but that is set to be dramatically increased in exchange for Aston Martin’s access to the larger company’s powertrain expertise. According to plans announced this afternoon, Mercedes will gradually increase its ownership up to 20 percent, second only to the holding of Aston’s executive chairman, Lawrence Stroll.

    The plan is to use Mercedes technology to achieve a rapid electrification of the model range, and also to drive a sizable increase in sales. Aston says it wants to be selling 10,000 cars a year globally as soon as 2024. That’s a serious ask given the company sold fewer than 6000 cars last year and has suffered substantial COVID-19 disruption in 2020.

    Aston CEO Moers confirmed to Car and Driver that the technology partnership is primarily aimed at bringing electrified powertrains to the brand, with the first hybridized Aston potentially arriving as soon as 2023. But he also said the new deal will allow more freedom to develop the combustion engines that Aston takes from Mercedes. At the moment Aston isn’t able to make any substantive alterations beyond software tuning, but in the future, Moers indicated, he hopes the use a broader “toolbox” of components to allow Aston to create bespoke versions of powerplants. Aston insiders have already told us they are interested in the flat-plane-crank V-8 that AMG has developed for the GT Black Series.

    We’re also told that there are no plans to end production of the V-12 engine that powers Aston’s range-topping sports cars. That engine is based on a heavy development of the engine that Ford originally developed for the DB7 at the end of the last century. Aston’s former CEO Andy Palmer had previously told C/D the company was planning to repatriate production of the V-12 from Germany to the U.K.; we don’t know where this announcement leaves that plan.

    Moers did admit that the new deal could lead to Aston’s forthcoming mid-engine supercar using a different engine than the hybridized turbo V-6 that the company is already developing. “We are still working on that, but we will have alternatives,” he said at a press conference following the official announcement, suggesting that buyers of supercars “expect to have something that is more or less linked to F1, but let’s wait and see.” As the Formula 1–engined Project One was developed under Moers’s tenure at AMG, that raises some fascinating possibilities for future strategy.

    Lawrence Stroll confirmed that previous plans to relaunch Lagonda as an EV-only brand—officially paused last year—are now dead, and that we can expect both hybrid and eventual full EV models to be launched as Astons. He told journalists that he wants Aston to have a portfolio of “front-engined, mid-engined and SUV products” and confirmed previous reports that Aston will build a broader portfolio of SUVs that will ultimately make up “close to the largest chunk” of the company’s sales. Given the way tastes at the top end of the market are developing, that seems a sensible strategy.

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