Sports car maker Aston Martin has revealed losses of almost £500 million as the pandemic took its toll on the brand.
Pre-tax losses in 2020 rose to £466 million, up from a £120 million loss a year earlier.
The figures reflect the Warwickshire-based firm having to write off almost £100 million of investments in scrapped projects, including plans for an electric vehicle.
It was also impacted by the ongoing release of No Time To Die, the next in the James Bond franchise in which Astons will once again feature heavily. Sales income dropped by 38 per cent to £611 million.
Management had pinned its hopes on the company’s first SUV, the DBX, which is being built in a new factory in St Athan, South Wales. It was well received and sold well and offers hope going forward.
DBX sales of more than 1,500 vehicles helped revenues in the final quarter of 2020 rise by three per cent compared with a year earlier.
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A total of 4,150 cars were sold in 2020 – a third fewer than a year earlier, although bosses had already said they wished to sell a smaller number of vehicles in the hope of reclaiming greater exclusivity for the brand.
The pandemic had a significant impact, forcing the temporary closure of both Aston Martin factories and dealerships at varying points during the year.
Chief executive Tobias Moers said: “On joining Aston Martin, my first priority was successfully launching our first SUV, the DBX.
“Demand is strong and we have wholesaled 1,516 units, with all dealers now having their demonstrator and floorplan models.
“Actions were already under way on rebalancing supply to demand for GT and sports cars, where we have made tremendous progress and are ahead of plan with encouraging signs for demand. Finally, specials are integral to our plan.
“The era defining Aston Martin Valkyrie is a priority this year and we are on track for deliveries to start in the second half.”
The company has lost £638 million in the three years since it listed on the London Stock Exchange.
In January 2020 it was forced to accept a £500 million rescue deal by Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll.
The businessman replaced Andy Palmer as chief executive with Mr Moers, who joined from Daimler’s high-performance division Mercedes-AMG.
The company aims to sell around 6,000 cars this year, increased to 10,000 cars by 2024 or 2025, with revenues hitting £2 billion.
Warwickshire automotive expert Charles Tennant said Aston Martin’s losses did not come as a big surprise.
He said: “Aston Martin has been through a turbulent time since listing on the stock exchange in 2018 and since then has had a management clear out under the direction of its new boss – the Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll.
“He is also a Formula One team owner and is taking Aston Martin back in after a six-decade hiatus with a race car called the AMR21 and there is even talk of him hiring Sir Lewis Hamilton as their driver.
“And why not as he has already lured the Mercedes high performance brand supremo Tobias Moers as chief executive of Aston Martin.
“With an expensive Formula One team aimed at providing a halo effect – race on Sunday, sell on Monday – and a new strategy based on building cars sold to customer orders, rather than pushing production out as dealer stock, it is understandable that losses would mount in the short-term.
“With the coronavirus effect added in it was inevitable that sales would fall and with excess dealer stock cleared out at discounted prices then profits had to suffer as well.
“Sales were down to 4,150 which was a third less than in 2019 and Aston Martin has now lost £638 million in the last three years.
“But it is not all bad news as the DBX sport utility vehicle – priced at £158,000 – was successfully launched and has been well received by the motoring press, selling 1,500 last year.
“Overall sales – including the sports cars – are planned to be 6,000 this year and 10,000 by 2025 providing much needed profitable revenue of £2 billion.
“The city is enthusiastic at this prospect and the share price shares rose 11 per cent to £22.14 with expectations that the company will return to profit this year.”