Aston Martin posts $226 million loss due to coronavirus impact

British car firm’s sales nearly halve in first three months of the year – but firm says crucial DBX is on track.

Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd posted a pre-tax loss of £118.9 million (AUD$224) in the first three months of this year, with sales falling by nearly half as the impact due to the Covid-19 crisis – but the firm insists the crucial new DBX SUV remains on track to go on sale this summer.

The British firm sold 578 cars from January until the end of March, a 45% drop from the 1057 in the same three months of 2019. Notably, the average selling price of each car was £98,000 (AUD$186,000), compared to an average of £160,000 (AUD$304,000 in 2019. The firm attributed that to now having any limited-run Special models on sale in the quarter.

Aston was hit hard by coronvirus lockdowns in place in China and other Asian countries for much of January and February: sales in the region were down 74%, with those in China falling by 86%. In its home market of the UK, sales were only down 3%, due to the lockdown only beginning in late March. Notably, sales in the USA fell by 57%, despite restrictions there only being introduced in March. Aston Martin chiefs attributed some of the total decline in sales to a planned step to reduce dealer stock to balance its supply and demand.

The fall in the number of cars sold and their asking price meant Aston’s first quarter revenue of £78.6 million (AUD$149.1 million), 60% down on the same period in 2019. The pre-tax loss of £118.9 million (AUD$225.6 million) compared to a £17.3 million (AUD$32.8 million) loss in 2019.

During the first quarter, 93% of Aston’s dealer network was forced to either close or was limited in capacity, and production was suspended at all its factories during March. But the firm says that all 18 dealers in China, and more than 15% worldwide, are now fully open.

Aston also resumed production at its new St Athan plant, where the new DBX is produced, on May 5. The firm says it remains on track to begin deliveries of the SUV this summer.

During the quarter, a group led by Lance Stroll completed an investment in the firm that raised £536 million (AUD$1.017 billion) in equity capital. As part of that deal, Stroll was named Aston’s new chairman.

Stroll said: “I am extremely pleased that DBX remains on track for deliveries in the summer and have a strong order book behind it extending into 2021. Based on these successful initial orders for DBX, we plan to unveil future derivatives starting from 2021.”

Stroll added that work on the Valkyrie hypercar “continues”, along with “refreshes” of the firm’s core sports car range. The firm says that the Valkyrie will now be launched late this year, due to delays sparked by the closure of its test facilities.

The said that it is expecting trading to remain “challenging” this year due to the ongoing impact of Covid-19 and that “as is prudent, the company continues to review all future funding and refinancing options to increase liquidity.”

Stroll added: “While in the short-term, as anticipated, we will have some difficulties due to the onset of Covid-19, having been in the business for a few weeks now I am even more enthusiastic and confident in the multi-year plan that we have set out to bring new and exciting products to market to drive demand and build the Aston Martin brand.”

James Attwood

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