Robin Roberts reports…
A multi-million pound three-storey state-of-art paint shop is nearing completion and engineers have started installing assembly lines, fitting out offices and preparing customer areas as well as constructing a dynamic assessment test track including an ‘active hill’.
The 90 acres site started life as a series of £100M Ministry of Defence Super-Hangars and over two years is being completely transformed into one of the world’s most advanced luxury car plants.
With the unveiling of Aston Martin Lagonda’s first DBX SUV scheduled for the last quarter of 2019, work is progressing apace to complete the new St Athan production facility.
Nearly 200 people currently work on site and after Christmas another 100 will join from the first tranche of local employees who have undergone 2.5 years training at Gaydon HQ, where Aston Martin make their current sports cars. Then St Athan will start adding local people and train them on the new lines as it steps up prototype model building for testing and evaluation before embarking on customer cars towards the end of 2019, and eventually there will be 750 people on site.
The DBX SUV five-door, due in 2020, is the first model off the new lines but that will soon be followed by the Lagonda SUV and then a saloon as the plant moves towards 7,000 cars annually over the next few years. Shortly afterwards St Athan will add a fourth model to their production lines when it introduces the all-electric Rapide E sports car.
St Athan will ultimately become the company’s Home of Electrification when the marque’s planned BEV models enter production, but as yet there is no talk of fuel cell models joining the range made in Wales.
Andy Haslam is the St Athan lines director for electrification and has been with the company for over 13 years; he was tasked with finding the global site for the new range of future models.
“We looked at 19 sites around the world but settled on Wales because of the fantastic support we were promised, the facilities at St Athan, the backing of universities and colleges, and we were overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of those who wanted to join us,” he said.
Dr Andy Palmer, Aston Martin Lagonda President and Group Chief Executive Officer said, “As the St Athan facility nears completion, there is a very real sense this is the start of a bold new era for Aston Martin Lagonda.
A second production facility is a critical step in delivering our Second Century Plan. The St Athan facility will initially commence with the production of our first SUV but will ultimately be a global centre of excellence for the production of luxury high performance EVs, including Lagonda: the world’s first luxury electric automotive brand.”
Those interested in seeing the St Athan plant can take a bird’s eye video tour of the new production facility for a fascinating behind-closed-doors glimpse of the factory as it enters its final completion phase.