M-B boosts its Aston stake

Remember how earlier this year, Aston Martin unexpectedly declared it was pulling out of the FIA’s much-hyped Hypercar category being established to joust at Le Mans and other sports-endurance venues? It came as a lot of speculation was swirling about Aston’s future, after Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll bought enough Aston stock last year to take over as the British legend’s executive chairman. Aston Martin is preparing to begin production of its stunning Valkyrie supercar, and the Racing Point team in Formula 1, which happens to be owned by Stroll, is projected to rebrand itself under the Aston banner in 2021. So something was clearly up here. A hint of what that may be was dropped last week when Mercedes-Benz announced that it’s upping its existing stake in Aston Martin that will give it a 20 percent share in the company’s ownership. In announcing the deal, the parties involved flatly declared that this is, at its heart, a straight technology-for-equity swap.

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The most immediate benefit for Aston Martin will be access to powertrain advances at Mercedes-Benz, a necessity given the fact that Aston Martin will be facing increasingly stringent emissions and fuel-economy standards, especially in the U.K. and the EU. It makes sense, given that Aston Martin already uses the AMG-developed Mercedes-Benz 4.0-liter performance V-8, with proprietary Mercedes-Bosch mapping, in several of its existing products. Stroll is already on record stating that he wants to nearly double Aston Martin’s current annual global output of 6,000 vehicles, with a to-be-developed array of SUVs in the mix, and a full EV envisioned by 2025. All of this will cost money, and Mercedes-Benz is considerably more flush than its English partner at this point. Mercedes-Benz has already said that hybrid drive technologies and leading-edge software will be two of the immediate benefits heading Aston Martin’s way.

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