Daimler AG (DAI) will supply high-performance engines to Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd., giving the world’s third-biggest luxury-vehicle maker a wider toehold in the high-end sports car market.
Daimler will over time receive a 5 percent stake in Aston Martin as part of the agreement, depending on the progress of a technical partnership the companies are setting up in a non-cash transaction, the Stuttgart, Germany-based manufacturer said today in a statement. Daimler’s Mercedes-AMG high-performance division will provide the U.K. company with engines, it said.
Aston Martin, the only global luxury-auto producer that doesn’t belong to a larger manufacturing group, is seeking to limit spending on new models as the maker of the 189,995-euro ($251,000) Rapide competes with Volkswagen AG (VOW)’s Bentley and Fiat SpA (F)’s Ferrari and Maserati. AMG makes the similarly priced SLS and is introducing an all electric version that will cost more than double the standard model.
“It’s important for Aston Martin to gain access to the engine technology,” said Daniel Schwarz, a Frankfurt-based analyst with Commerzbank AG. “They are too small volume-wise to keep down development costs on their own.”
Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz brand ranks third in worldwide sales to Bayerische Motoren Werke AG’s namesake marque and Volkswagen’s Audi nameplate. Daimler shuttered the Maybach ultra-luxury division in 2011 because the business, which made limousines priced in excess of $300,000, wasn’t profitable. That left the company without the equivalent of Bentley or BMW’s Rolls-Royce.
Bentley has expanded its line-up into sports cars such as the Continental GT Speed to challenge Gaydon, England-based Aston Martin. The VW division announced plans on July 23 to build the world’s most-expensive sport-utility vehicle.
Daimler is among carmakers that cooperate to share development costs in specific projects without taking the more complicated step of merging.
The German company has an agreement to supply engines to Nissan Motor Co. (7201)’s Infiniti division under a three-year-old cooperation project with the Yokohama, Japan-based carmaker and its French partner, Renault SA (RNO), on developing components and models. Daimler and Ford Motor Co. (F) added Nissan as a partner earlier this year to develop fuel cells for electric cars that the manufacturers plan to start selling in 2017.
BMW signed an agreement in January with Toyota Motor Corp. (7203), the world’s biggest carmaker, to jointly develop fuel-cell systems and a new mid-sized sports car. Fiat will produce a new Alfa Romeo roadster based on the next version of Japanese producer’s Mazda Motor Corp. (7261)’s MX-5 to revitalize the upscale Italian brand.
AMG, based in the Stuttgart suburb of Affalterbach, is known for hand-made engines embossed with a signature badge of the worker who assembled it. The division’s all-electric SLS supercar, costing 416,500 euros, is just starting deliveries.
The partnership with Aston Martin is “proof of AMG’s technological and performance expertise, and a real win-win situation for both sides,” Ola Kaellenius, head of Mercedes-AMG, said in the statement.
In addition to the AMG engine agreement, Mercedes-Benz will provide electronic components to Aston Martin, Daimler said today. The carmakers, which have been in talks since the beginning of the year, plan to sign a definitive agreement in the second half of this year.
Aston Martin, whose sports cars have been featured in James Bond movies, laid out plans in January to invest 500 million pounds ($765 million) over the next four years. The carmaker, which turns 100 this year and sold 3,800 vehicles in 2012, is backed by London-based Investindustrial, a private-equity fund whose previous assets include high-end motorcycle maker Ducati, which Audi bought last year.
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