By the end of the year, UK sports car maker Aston Martin will decide where to build a second plant, according to CEO Andy Palmer. In an interview with Automotive News Europe, Palmer said that the plant is likely to be located in the U.S., particularly in the state of Alabama. This new plant is slated to roll out the upcoming DBX crossover.
Palmer said that the company is in the process of narrowing the possible locations to places where the most DBX models will be sold. He said that its principal customers will be in China and the U.S. However, a location in China will be “difficult” since the automaker will need to enter a joint venture with a local automaker.
It’s also harder to export vehicles from China. The launch of the DBX will be in 2019 as part of the company’s plans to give its annual vehicle sales a boost from 4,000 in 2014 to 15,000. Aston Martin’s lone plant in Gaydon, central England, has limited room for growth.
Palmer said that while it’s possible to produce 15,000 cars annually at its Gaydon plant with three shifts, it would cause a strain and there won’t be any room for stoppage for maintenance.
However, Palmer said that a Gaydon expansion has not been ruled out. A plant in Alabama would be ideal since it’s near Daimler’s plant that builds Mercedes-Benz SUVs.
Daimler owns a 5% share in Aston Martin under the terms of a deal to be the supplier of high-performance V-8 engines and electronic architectures for the next generation of sports cars that will probably have their launch beginning in 2016.
Palmer said that if the plant is in the U.S., it’s likely that the DBX will be built with kits that use parts produced at Gaydon. He said that it’s possible for this plant to act as a hub and a spoke to its Gaydon craftsmen.
The Financial Times reported last month that Aston has been having talks with officials in some U.S. states about a plan to open a plant to roll out its first crossover. This will be based on the all-electric, all-wheel-drive DBX concept that was first seen last March at the Geneva auto show.