Some positive news from Aston Martin today, which has announced the opening of its new St Athan manufacturing facility. The First Minister of Wales, Rt Hon Mark Drakeford, joined Aston Martin CEO, Dr Andy Palmer, to officially open the plant, which will eventually create as many as 750 new jobs.
Gaydon will continue to serve as Aston's home for sports and supercar production, with the St Athan site taking on the responsibility of producing the new DBX SUV and acting as the marque's 'Home of Electrification', building models such as the Rapide E alongside luxury Lagonda-branded vehicles.
For now, though, the focus will be on the make-or-break DBX - pre-production of which had already commenced prior to today's ceremony. Should demand for the model meet Aston's expectations, then up to 600 highly-skilled employees will be required at the site by the second quarter of next year, rising to that 750-person target not long after that.
Speaking to mark the occasion, Palmer said: "Opening our new manufacturing facility at St Athan today is a pivotal day for Aston Martin and a vote of confidence in the UK, with the facility projected to employ up to 750 highly-skilled workers at its peak. St Athan is a critical step in delivering our new car, DBX, which will be built in the new facility. The opening of St Athan is a hugely important milestone in the company's growth plan and integral to our ambitions as a global luxury brand with a presence in all major sectors of the market."
While First Minister Drakeford added: "Today is a proud moment for Aston Martin, the Welsh Government and for Wales. Locating this world class and globally-recognised brand in St Athan is a huge vote of confidence in the Welsh workforce. It is an example of the Welsh Government's support and can-do attitude driving economic growth and creating jobs. I look forward to the first made-in-Wales Aston Martins rolling off the production line next year."
The news comes against the backdrop of reports that Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll - father of F1 driver Lance and owner of the Racing Point Formula One team - is preparing a bid to purchase a "major stake" in Aston Martin. The news that a consortium led by Stroll could be poised to take control sent the manufacturer's previously dwindling stock price up by 20 per cent in a day, highlighting the market's lack of confidence in the brand's current situation. Should the deal materialise and the DBX prove to be the success Aston hopes, however, it will have been a perfect time to buy into Andy Palmer's said growth plan. Either way, the cars that roll off the St Athan production line in the coming months and years will be pivotal in establishing what happens next.