Cover Story

Young rich bond with Aston Martin

Updated: 2011-06-17 11:13

By Wang Chao (China Daily European Weekly)

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Iconic British brand making the right turns in booming luxury car market

Young rich bond with Aston Martin
The luxury automaker Aston Martin sold 100 cars in China in 2010 and aims to double that number this year. [Provided to China Daily]

Aston Martin, the luxury car manufacturer favored by investment bankers, is hoping to build a "special" niche with Chinese customers in the fast-growing luxury car market to boost its market share in the world's largest market for automobiles.

The British automaker anticipates that much of its future profit growth would come from new markets such as China, where demand for luxury goods is skyrocketing amid the rise of a new class of millionaires who are willing to spend money to own expensive wheels of desire.

Explaining the concept of "special" in the context of the luxury car market, Matthew Bennett, director, Asia-Pacific for Aston Martin, says: "The number of vehicles we have sold in the past 100 years is equivalent to the sales automakers such as Toyota do in two or three days."


Young rich bond with Aston Martin

Bennett quickly explains that the vast difference has nothing to do with the flagging demand for Aston Martin cars. Rather, it is because the British company has always positioned its cars as luxury cars that are unique and rare.

"Since our customers pay a fortune to buy the cars, they need some individual treatment, and they need to feel special," Bennett says.

"In our concept, there is no such thing as a 'typical customer' or a 'target customer', as we ensure that we have one-to-one relations with each of them."

Such confidence also stems from the fact that the Aston Martin cars are priced between 3 million yuan (322,407 euros) and 5.9 million yuan (634,067 euros).

That equals the cost of five BMW 7 series cars, and seven Audi A6L cars, models that are considered the epitomes of success in China.

Despite the stiff price, Aston Martin sells 5,000 to 6,000 cars worldwide ever year, and sold 100 cars in China last year. Exuding confidence, Bennett says that he expects to double the sales target for Aston Martin this year.

"Currently, we have three segments in our global market, each making up roughly 30 percent - America, Europe and Asia. The American and European markets are relatively steady, while the Asian market is extremely robust, driven by the strong growth in China," he says.

"Though in terms of market size for us, China is still small. We have very ambitious growth plans," he says. "This year we expect the Chinese market to become the biggest in Asia."

Despite the Asian headquarters of Aston Martin being in Tokyo, Bennett spends nearly two to three weeks every month in the company's Shanghai office.

That special attention clearly underscores the importance luxury car makers are giving to China. Aston Martin debuted in China in 2008 at a time when other luxury brands, such as Mercedes-Benz and Audi, had already been present for 16 and 20 years.

Clearly the British automaker was at a disadvantage as most of the German brands already had successful local joint ventures and considerable market share.

Bennett, however, does not seem too perturbed at playing second fiddle to other luxury car brands in China.

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