We've learned a few things about Aston Martin this week. One, that's it's new Formula 1 car, the AMR22, proved solid on day one of testing in Barcelona. Sebastian Vettel ended up sixth in the standings with a 1:21.276 and 52-laps completed, while Lance Stroll was thirteenth on a 1:23.327 after 67 laps. Day two of testing is currently under way as we write. Aston has also announced that it's continuing to supply the official safety and medical cars for the 2022 F1 season. For twelve of this year's races, you'll see veteran driver Bernd Maylände occasionally leading the field in a Vantage, with Dr Ian Roberts in a DBX covering the medical car obligations.
Tobias Moers, Chief Executive Officer of Aston Martin Lagonda said "It is a continuing source of pride for myself and the whole company to see our cars playing a crucial role in Formula 1." For the record, the 2022 season begins in Bahrain from March 18th to 20th, in case that's not in your diary yet - and you'll first see the Aston Martin course cars in Melbourne, which returns to the schedule post-covid in April.
Perhaps more significantly to Aston's long-term plans was its release concerning last year's financial result. And in a rare bit of good news (considering the manufacturer's often fluctuating fortunes) it makes solid reading to accountants and fans of the brand alike. Naturally, the pandemic skewed the results somewhat, but between December '20 and December '21, the company sold 6,178 vehicles, which is 82 per cent more than the 3,394 it sold the year before. That translated to increased revenue (up 79 per cent), which stands at £1.1 billion. The company still posted an operating loss of £77 million, but that's a massive reduction from £323 million the previous year. Especially as it includes increased investment in brand and marketing, higher depreciation and a repayment and of £13 million in furlough credits.
Other fillips included meeting its target of more than 3,000 DBX sales in the car's first full year of production and seeing an increase in the average selling price per unit (excluding special models like the Valkyrie) from £136,000 to £150,000. It's all inline with the marque's Project Horizon transformation strategy, instigated by Moers and chairman Lawrence Stroll. Ultimately, Aston is aiming for 10,000 sales, revenues of £2 billion and £500 million in pre-tax earnings by 2024/2025.
Stroll said, "My second year as Executive Chairman of this iconic and great company has been another of significant progress. We have successfully transitioned our operating model to that of an ultra-luxury performance brand, with customer demand well ahead of supply. Our core business is strong and delivered to plan, with substantially improved profitability."
He also addressed the Valkyrie issues. "The Aston Martin Valkyrie programme pushes the boundaries of what is possible to bring to market outside an F1TM racing environment. We inherited a challenging programme, and while it was disappointing that some deliveries were rescheduled from late 2021, following an in-depth review and now under a dedicated team we are confident of continuing to deliver these truly extraordinary vehicles to our customers with no compromises."
As for the future, his statement noted: "We have a strong pipeline of extraordinary products to come with both DBX707 and V12 Vantage this year and a new generation of front-engine cars for 2023. This high-performance new portfolio will command stronger pricing and profitability compared with the past, driving delivery of our financial targets. Our path to electrification is clear with three of our product launches in 2021 featuring hybrid technology, our first plug-in hybrid coming in 2024, our first battery electric vehicle targeted for launch in 2025 and all new car lines will have an electrified powertrain option by 2026."
There was also a note, tucked away at bottom of the financial statement that read, "The Company is embedding the first tranche of technology from Mercedes-Benz AG into its product renewal and expansion pipeline. There are currently no plans to issue additional shares to Mercedes-Benz AG until early 2023." So there is a plan to release more shares, then.
It's always dangerous to make bold claims about Aston Martin being in rude health - these often unravel a day or two later. But there are signs of a significant turnaround and Lawrence Stroll isn't someone who accepts less than greatness. Arguably, then, he is a man to be believed when he claims: "Beyond 2022 we are confident in the medium and long-term potential for the business." Let's all keep our fingers crossed that it will, finally, be the case.
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