BBC reports that Aston Martin is to build its new luxury car in south Wales, creating 750 highly-skilled jobs
The DBX car will be hand-made in a super hangar at St Athan in the Vale of Glamorgan.It is a major coup for Wales, which took two years to secure the deal ahead of 20 locations across the world. As well as attracting one of motoring’s most prestigious names, it is expected to create around 1,000 jobs with suppliers and local business.
Aston Martin chief executive Andy Palmer called it a “momentous day for Wales” at a news conference in Cardiff on Wednesday. The development will include a skills academy, which will make St Athan and the Vale of Glamorgan a centre of excellence. Work on the factory will start in 2017 and production will start three years later. “We have a wealth of craftsmanship here,” said Mr Palmer. “It takes 200 hours to make a car and to do that we need skilled labour and we have got that skilled labour in Wales, in Great Britain and that played a big part in our decision.”
The company is also bringing more work to its factory and headquarters at Gaydon in Warwickshire bringing the total of jobs created to 1,000. The value of the deal is in the hundreds of millions of pounds, although the Welsh government will not comment on the amount of support it is giving. Mr Palmer said there were a number of reasons why St Athan had been chosen for the new site. “The Welsh offer wasn’t financially enticing but share holders had to understand the balance that had to be made on quality, cost and time, and St Athan was on time,” he said. “We don’t have to build a building. It won through in terms of quality of workforce and supplies and relationship with the government of Wales.”
Each car is individually styled to the buyer’s specifications. In its 103-year history, the company has only sold just over 70,000 cars. To continue to survive at the luxury end of the market it has been looking at broadening its range to appeal to younger – and female – customers. The car will start off as a petrol vehicle before being developed into a hybrid and all-electric 4×4. The prototype was unveiled at the Geneva motor show last year and is expected to cost at least £160,000 to buy.
Mr Palmer said then that the company envisaged a world “perhaps a world not too far away, when luxury GT travel is not only stylish and luxurious but also more practical, more family-friendly and more environmentally responsible”. The design team had in mind a driver who was a young woman, American – and rich. The fictitious customer was dubbed Charlotte and seen as “an attractive lady, cool, in her 30s”.
First Minister Carwyn Jones said it was the start of a long-term relationship between Wales and Aston Martin. “We will work together in building on the strong foundations of our partnership to nurture a prosperous and rewarding future for this iconic company and its skilled workforce in Wales,” he said. Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb called the announcement an “enormous boost” for Wales and the British car industry. He added: “It is a genuine example of a ‘one nation’ achievement, with both the UK and Welsh governments working together to attract this prestige manufacturer to Welsh shores.” Speaking on BBC Radio Wales, Mr Palmer said the company had chosen Wales because it was “the best offer”. “I don’t simply mean in terms of money. What really swung it was the passion and the professionalism of the people we dealt with in Wales,” he said. Economy Minister Edwina Hart AM said: “We had an excellent relationship with Aston Martin at official and ministerial level. “The important thing for us was ensuring that Aston Martin stayed in the UK, a fine company for the UK. “We fought very hard to ensure we were on the list and now we’ve achieved having it.
“This is a win not just for Wales but for the UK.”