Worldwide economic meltdown? Don’t tell Aston Martin. They just opened a new showroom in Charlotte, NC.
As it turns out, Aston Martin isn’t doing too bad for themselves. Unlike most of the other high-end sports car / supercar / luxury car companies, Aston Martin is no longer owned by an automotive giant. Ever since Ford sold them to private company, they no longer suffer the same inevitable fate as the big auto makers.
I attended the grand opening of Aston Martin Charlotte, and had a chance to sit down with Bill Norman, Operations Manager SE Region of Aston Martin North America to chat about the dealership and future plans for Aston Martin…
Upon arriving at the Foreign Cars International dealership, which also sells Maserati and Ferrari, you’d swear the economy was in great shape. Outside sat two DB9s, one Volante, and inside the new 300 square foot showroom sat two V8 Vantages, a DB9 Volante, a DBS, and a DBS Volante – the only one currently in North America. Sleek and modern interior design is what the higher profile clientele want, and that’s what they get.
Foreign Cars International already has an Aston Martin dealership in Greensboro, NC; only an hour and a half drive away. You’d think with only 37 dealers in North America they would want to space them further apart, but since the Greensboro dealer saw a lot of buyers based out of Charlotte (which is one of the largest financial centers in the US,) it makes sense to open another one closer to their customers.
Also take into consideration that North Carolina is a hub for driving enthusiasts. No, we’re not all about Nascar like many people think. The main cities here are swarming with sports cars. Real sports cars, not mid-90s Camaros. And as Mr. Norman explained, Aston Martin caters more to driving enthusiasts than high-profile execs trying to impress everyone.
After driving the 2009 V8 Vantage, I can certainly attest to that. Each car is hand built, with no robotics involved. A very minimal amount of plastic is used in each car – instead replaced with aluminum, carbon fiber, glass, leather, and stainless steel. Each upholstery, each engine, transmission, and body is made for each individual car; the parts are not mass-produced.
As a result, each car takes 33 days to build, and the quality truly stands out among the rest. When you become an Aston Martin owner, you’re invited to all customer events held around the world, which turns out to be relatively frequent.
With this much customer focus and more models in the pipeline, Aston Martin is poised for growth. The exclusive One-77, while it won’t be sold in the States (EPA regulations,) will boost brand image as a proper supercar. The incredible 600 hp V12 Vantage will redefine the term “grand tourer.” Although no plans have been announced, Aston is talking about a successor to the DB9.
The DBS Volante is almost on the market here, and then we have the Rapide four-door, which we won’t talk about right now. With most companies becoming more economical and “green” (even Audi and Ferrari,) it’s good to see a company that refuses to abandon their principals and high-displacement sports car roots.
Needless to say, there’s a lot to be excited about from the brand from Warwickshire, UK. Expanding their dealership network along with their line-up will help accomplish continued growth.