Aston Martin seeks ‘big brother’ to help with autonomous vehicles

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Aston Martin just reported that it earned $121 million (or £87 million) in 2017, its first profit in eight years, and it’s preparing for a possible initial public offering, eyeing a valuation as high as $6.95 billion (£5 billion). It has a strategy to begin converting its fleet to hybrid and electric powertrains. Nevertheless, the low-volume British luxury marque says it needs a helping hand to survive the wave of driving technology sweeping the automotive industry.

CEO Andy Palmer tells Bloomberg it’s looking for a “ ” partner to help it with the billions of dollars in capital requirements posed by the dawn of driverless cars.

“We are making a new kind of company, a company that can survive on 7,000 to 14,000 very highly priced, very profitable cars a year, but it can survive because of its partnerships,” Palmer told Bloomberg TV. “It can be very profitable on that 7,000 to 14,000 cars a year but only by having a big brother that can help it out.”

Palmer said Aston Martin already has a partnership with Daimler AG, which owns a 5-percent stake in the company, to develop autonomous capabilities, but more help is needed. One assumes he is envious of competitors like Rolls-Royce and Bentley, which benefit from the corporate parentage and financial resources of BMW and Volkswagen, respectively.

Sales grew 48 percent in 2017 to nearly 5,100 units, ’s highest sales volume in nine years, on the strength of the DB11 sports car, which starts at $211,995. It was enough for Palmer to proclaim in a release, “The financial turnaround of Aston is now complete.”

While it shops around for a sugar daddy, Aston Martin is busy building a new factory in Wales, set to open in 2019. It has launched new models like the DB11 Volante and Vantage, plus the limited-production DB4 GT Continuation model. Further out, the company is building 155 examples of its first electric car, the RapidE, due in 2019, and it’s developing an electric version of the DBX crossover, also for 2019. Palmer has said Aston Martin will offer all six of its in hybrid variants by 2025, with 25 percent of its to be fully electric by the end of the 2020s.

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