Aston Martin to reduce Rapide production due to slow demand

Article by Christian A., on June 16, 2011

Aston Martin will reduce the production volume of Rapide saloons so that the output matches its sales. It will cut production to only 1,250 of cars a year or about 25 cars weekly. This is over half of the 2,000 cars initially planned in 2007/08.

Several sources imply that volume could even be dropped to 10 per week. However, Aston is insistent that it won’t fall that much. In fact, output of the Aston Martin Rapide was stopped last May.

Right after the weekend of the Royal Wedding, the company sent an e-mail to contractors that it won’t need more parts for the month. Aston revealed last week that it will end an eight-year production contract with Magna Steyr in Austria in mid-2012, six years earlier than anticipated.

Aston said that it has served a notice period of one year, as provided in their contract. Aston has yet to discuss the contract terms but according to sources, it could have spent up to £10 million to buy itself out of the Magna Steyr deal. Several factors affected sales of the Rapide.

Since it started production, the luxury car market has slowed. Aston’s sales have gone down by about half since the global economic downturn in September 2008.

It’s a totally different market compared to the period from 2007-2008 when Aston was planning the Rapide. Back then, the Gaydon factory in Warwickshire was almost at its maximum capacity.

Aston Martin officially unveiled the Rapide during the 63rd Frankfurt Motorshow. Considered as one of 2009’s most awaited cars, the Rapide is elegant and luxurious but at the same it is a functional vehicle. It can accommodate a maximum of four adult passengers and delivers a driving experience Aston Martin has long been known for. Originally revealed as a concept car during the 2006 Detroit Auto Show, there was doubt the project would move forward after the brand was sold by Ford Motor Company.

Following the sale however, the new shareholders gave their approval for the project to proceed by the middle of 2007. Since Aston Martin already had a number of models in its line-up, the design and the engineer team decided to use the 'V/H Architecture' platform to serve as the basis for the new Rapide. This is the same platform used by the well-praised Aston Martin DBS line-up. The end result was that it only took a little over two years to create a new car from scratch.

While this is the first four-door production car from the brand, it boasted of having the qualities of Beauty, Power, and Soul. Each of the swan-wing doors for instance, allows for easy access to both the front and the back and once inside, the occupants will experience the wide space and the lavish sports seats. The luggage compartment has a 301-liter volume allowing for enough space to store all luggage or equipment by the four passengers. Whether this is a sports bag, golf sets, or even sis.

Indeed, the Rapide is an Aston Martin that anyone can enjoy anywhere, anytime, and no matter what the occasion is. Chief Executive Officer Dr. Ulrich Bez shared that the Rapide exhibit at the culmination of the brand’s sports car range marks the return of the respected brand. With the Rapide, he added, there is now an Aston Martin that meets every demand and every function that consumers want. Now the whole family can enjoy riding an Aston Martin together, Dr. Bez continued, and they can do so while sitting low in a comfortable setting that also allows for ample visibility no matter where one sits.

It even delivers new levels when it comes to refinement, comfort, and entertainment, he further adds. Meanwhile Marek Reichman, Director of Design, revealed that the rear haunches have a muscular form that displays the power it hides underneath with the low standard able to create a powerful appearance. This is, he added, similar to a race horse that is standing and posing in order to show both elegance and power. Director Reichman was the head of the in-house design team that created the Rapide. Similar to a tailored suit, there is a sense of proportion to the Rapide, Reichman continued.

The trademarked and iconic side strake is still there but this time, it has been extended towards the doors in the rear and this manages to improve elegantly, yet subtly, the proportions of the side, he added. No matter where you look at it, he further added, the Rapid’s pureness is evident. In addition to offering a pampering and sophisticated interior for the occupants as well as delivering an atmosphere that is more driver-focused, the Rapide can also travel at long distances even when running at high speed.

For every Aston Martin fan out there, the Rapide offers a new realm of possibilities with every journey in it becoming an event. While the Rapide does bring with it the experience one can have from Aston Martin, it is a vehicle that offers function considering that it manages to mix excellent power, stylish form, and practicality, in one. Dr. Bez says that no matter what their lifestyle requirements are, there is now an Aston Martin sports car for every kind of customer.

More than anything, he continues, the Rapide is a versatile vehicle as it sets a new standard as it relates to enhancement and luxury not just for the driver but the passengers as well. Like every Aston Martin model, powering the Rapide is an engine that is capable of excellent power and torque. Specifically, what powers the Rapide is a 6.0-liter V12 engine that has been hand-built and delivers output at 470 bhp (477 PS / 350 kW) with maximum power available at 6,000 Nm.

Peak torque meanwhile is 600 Nm (443 lb.-ft.) and delivered at 5,000 rpm. Paired to this is the automatic Touchtronic 2 six-speed transmission that has been specifically tuned for this engine. With this, the driver can utilize the magnesium paddles that have been mounted on the steering column in order to change the gear, either automatically or manually. Going back to the interior, the rear space was cleverly packaged to give a space wherein the passengers sitting also experience the driving experience.

Even when sitting at the back, the passengers are able to get clear views on the front as well as the sides. With the two individual seats that have been hand trimmed, it supplies that needed support and comfort. It even has air-conditioning system, and a heating one, on face-level. Another example of its practicality is its luggage compartment which has a movable bulkhead. This allows access to the compartment even in the rear cabin. By simply pressing a button, the rear seats can be folded flat thereby resulting in a flat loading space and increasing the compartment’s capacity from 301 liters to 750 liters.

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