posted on June 23, 2022

Power, beauty, electrification

Aston Martin has always been known for exotic supercars that deliver performance and luxury at the highest level. Unfortunately, that formula can be a hard sell in this era of utility and electrification. That’s why the company recently brought on a new chief executive officer with a background that’s sure to excite driving enthusiasts — after an eight-year run as CEO of Ferrari, Amedeo Felisa is now tasked with steering the storied British automaker into the future. Here’s what you need to know about how the brand got here, and how it’s evolving.

Founded in 1913, Aston Martin has a deep racing heritage that can be traced back to the company’s early days in motorsports. Its production cars would go on to define British automotive performance. That includes the Aston Martin DB5, which landed supporting roles in several James Bond films. This iconic vehicle first captivated audiences in the 1964 film “Goldfinger,” and even made a recent appearance in “No Time to Die.”

Aston Martin stole the hearts of moviegoers and petrolheads alike, but the company has faced its share of financial challenges throughout its long history. It’s gone through several ownership changes, including several decades as a Ford subsidiary. In 2007, it was spun off as a private company. That brings us to the present day, where Aston Martin is now publicly traded and listed on the London Stock Exchange.

John’s 2020 Aston Martin Vantage (Las Vegas, CA)

Right now, Aston Martin is still building the same exciting cars you know and love. But as a low-volume manufacturer, it’s now sourcing engines from Mercedes-Benz. So if you hear a familiar sound under the hood of a modern DB11 or Vantage, chances are it’s the same 4.0L twin-turbo V8 found in several AMG models. Purists can still find Aston Martin’s thrilling 5.2L twin-turbo V12 engine in the high-performance DBS, as well as the upcoming V12 Vantage.

But while sports cars are Aston Martin’s bread and butter, tastes have changed in recent years. Drivers want vehicles that can carry more things and go more places, which naturally caused sales of two-door cars to dwindle. Meanwhile, SUVs have dominated the sales charts for the better half of a decade. And now, tightening emissions regulations are driving automakers to develop more hybrids and EVs. None of these are segments that Aston Martin has historically dabbled in.

Sidney’s 2021 Aston Martin DBX (Beverly Hills, CA)

Despite an initial resistance, the British automaker has finally shown up to the sport utility party. In fact, the recently introduced DBX has been credited with saving the brand from an untimely end. It combines utility, luxury, and performance, powered by either a Mercedes-AMG 3.0L turbocharged inline six or 4.0L twin-turbo V8, and has given Aston a mighty boost to their sales numbers over the last couple years.

Looking ahead, Aston Martin is continuing to find its footing in a market that’s quickly pivoting to all-electric vehicles. That’s a tall order for an automaker with a reputation built on exotic supercars powered by internal-combustion engines. But as the industry races to reduce emissions, Aston is embracing sustainable vehicles while working to retain the British class and tradition they’ve helped define.

Natalia’s 2020 Aston Martin DB11 (Hallandale Beach, FL)

Going from supercars to sustainability may seem like a huge shift, but don’t forget that this road is already being traveled by the likes of Ferrari and Lamborghini. These automakers have some of the most passionate enthusiasts around, but need to produce more mainstream vehicles to stay afloat. That means more SUVs, hybrids, and EVs for the foreseeable future.

The good news is that Aston Martin is already hard at work electrifying its entire lineup. Its first EV is scheduled to launch in 2025, although there’s no indication of whether this will be a purpose-built sports car, a grand tourer, or an SUV. A plug-in hybrid hypercar, dubbed the Valhalla, will also be available in 2024. This is all new territory for Aston Martin, but you can bet that the engineers are developing each vehicle with longtime fans in mind.

So don’t worry, Mr. Bond. Your vehicle of choice will have a place on the road for years to come. Just don’t be surprised if your next car chase is unusually quiet.

Michael has spent most of his career writing about cars. His passions all start with the letter S. That includes his Honda S2000, sustainability, and sushi.