Aston Martin has begun a new era in its history, taking over the site where it will build the DBX SUV.
In a special ceremony at St Athan in south Wales the luxury car maker took possession of three ‘super hangars’ from the Ministry of Defence. These will house the production facility for the DBX, which is expected to start coming off the line in late 2019.
The event marked the start of phase two of the project, which will see the conversion of the three hangars. Aston Martin has already begun building the front office and showroom areas of the new facility, which in total covers 90 acres, significantly more than the brand’s existing Gaydon plant. Like St Athan this was built on a former Royal Air Force base.
By the time production starts 750 jobs will be created at St Athan, employees selected from more than 3,000 applications. The first staff employed for the new plant are already training at Gaydon.
The site was officially handed over to Aston Martin president and CEO Dr Andy Palmer by Secretary of State for Defence Michael Fallon. The importance of the new plant to the Welsh automotive industry was demonstrated by the presence at the event of Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones, and Secretary of State for Wales, Alun Cairns. All three, commented Dr Palmer, had been instrumental in securing the site for Aston Martin.
Carwyn Jones added that with phase II of redevelopment commencing at St Athan, supply chain companies throughout Wales will also have the opportunity to bid for contracts worth over £60m through the Welsh Government’s own Sell to Wales procurement site.
“Aston Martin is a major success story for Wales and I look forward to further building on our working partnership to bring maximum benefits for the economy and the reputation of Wales worldwide,” he added.
Speaking directly to The Car Expert following the ceremony, Dr Palmer said that the St Athan site had been chosen over 20 possible production locations around the globe primarily because of the passionate support offered by the Welsh Government.
“The single-minded passion of the minister to get us here closed some of the other problems,” Dr Palmer said, adding that the existence of the three super hangars to convert would save the project about a year in delivery time compared to a greenfield site.
Aston Martin has high hopes for the DBX, which was displayed in concept form at the ceremony. The company predicts production of 4,000 to 5,000 a year, which will effectively double the current total annual volume and is described by Palmer as “a significant uplift.”
The St Athan plant has a potential capacity of 7,000 vehicles per annum, however, and with Aston Martin planning seven new models, Palmer confirmed that a car wearing the Lagonda badge is also under consideration for production in Wales. However it is still to be given the green light.