They say platform sharing is good. Yes indeed, if you have to run a business and keep costs in check. But sometimes, it just may not work, especially in the luxury car business.
Few have tried it out, but with mixed success. Porsche for instance shares the Cayenne platform with the Volkswagen Touareg and both have gone on to do decently in their own spheres, despite both brands sharing a rather dissimilar mindspace. Bentley has repeated the formula with the Continental GT and GTC with good numbers to show over the last decade or so. That success hasn't been the case with Aston Martin.
They've been spilling out cars based on their VH platform since 2002 and the number of models they do are staggering by even small car standards. Vantage, DB9, DBS (now Vanquish), Virage (now discontinued) and the Rapide four-door saloon. Too many cars it seems, but what's worse is that the family look is rather static. Let me be frank, Aston Martins are gorgeous to look at, but there's only so much of me too a market can really take. Between models the changes are not too many and that does become a bit tiresome. Even to luxury and performance car buyers. No one who buys a Vanquish would like that his neighbour's Vantage resembles his. And that's just one of the problems.
The Rapide is struggling to make a mark in the market and that's because it doesn't serve the purpose well enough. It's not comfortable to be seated in and isn't a replacement for a regular entry-level supercar. The DB9 may be good in isolation but it's not competitive enough to trouble the Ferrari 458 nor the more expensive versions of the Porsche 911. Nor the Lamborghini Gallardo either. The Vantage has just received a round of updates and the Vanquish has just entered dealer forecourts. But good (yet similar looking) cars that sound like a chat with the almighty may just not be enough to turn the tide in Aston Martin's favour. What it needs is a the Lagonda SUV concept which we saw a few years ago to become a reality. And even then there's no telling if the company can make magic the way Ferrari does.
Aston really needs to find a buyer who can understand, appreciate and invest in its future. Not just someone with money, but someone who can integrate Astons with their own lineup of products. And Mahindra is not one of them. Agreed, Mahindra can scurry up the reserves and it has a management that is understanding enough, but it brings to Mahindra's table nothing more than a small manufacturer that doesn't enjoy even a quarter of the brand equity that some of its Italian competition does. And the valuation isn't fair enough either. Also Mahindra will have little to learn from the Gaydon manufacturer since the current crop of vehicles it manufacturers are far removed from Aston's supercar lineup.
Here's hoping that Mahindra let this one go. There are many more diamonds out there waiting to be plucked. Just that Aston Martin is not one of them.