The Aston Martin DB11 quietly sources its V8 engine from Mercedes — and it shows how small luxury automakers depend on larger ones to survive

2020 Aston Martin DB11 V8 Benjamin Hunting review photo Business Insiderr00033 (1)

Summary List Placement

It’s far more complicated, and more expensive, to manufacture a modern automobile than most of us could ever imagine. This is doubly true for those scratching out an existence at the ultra-luxury margins of the industry, where development costs are rarely ever recouped by volume sales and product decisions have almost zero margin for error should they not connect with the core group of buyers — whose support is key to keeping the lights on.

In an automotive industry increasingly driven by consolidation, where not even major operations like Chrysler, Fiat, Nissan, and Mitsubishi can find a path forward without joining together in elaborate networks of takeovers and mergers, smaller concerns have also had to forge similar partnerships lest they be swallowed whole by red ink or a deep-pocketed competitor. 

Perhaps no vehicle illustrates this better among high-end brands than the 2020 Aston Martin DB11 V8, a respected and stylish grand-touring coupe that’=s looked across the English Channel to pull its entire drivetrain from a most unlikely Continental source. It’s a unique partnership between two seemingly disparate, high-performance badges — Aston Martin and Mercedes-AMG — and one that may eventually be undone by the same pressures that brought it about in the first place.

Everybody needs somebody to lean on

One of the most storied builders to have emerged from England’s early automotive industry, Aston Martin can trace its operations back more than a century. During that time, the modest manufacturer has laid claim to numerous racing victories, countless gorgeous sports cars, and of course more than one starring role in the James Bond franchise.

The road to its current independence has come at a cost. After a decade or so of ownership by Ford that ended in 2007, Aston Martin was forced to take stock of its future. The technologies it had relied on from the Blue Oval naturally had an expiration date, especially in the fast-paced world of engine design, which was increasingly challenged by the twin specters of emissions regulations and efficiency expectations.

With the end of the line approaching for its Ford-sourced V8 and V12 engines, Aston Martin quickly realized that it had the budget available to replace only one of those power plants in house. Logically, it made sense for the company to continue to forge its own twelve-cylinder future, as that motor had long been indelibly associated with the Aston Martin image, and development began on a new turbocharged design in 2011.

That V12 emerged just over five years later, and can today be found in the top-tier versions of the Aston Martin DB11, as well as several other models. The hunt for a new V8, however, shifted the Brit builder’s gaze from Detroit to Daimler, resulting in a “technical partnership” that saw Mercedes-AMG play a major role in developing the next eight-cylinder to be found under an Aston’s hood.

It was a deal that also netted parent company Daimler a 5% stake in Aston Martin, as well as the commitment to …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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