Aston Martin unveils first SUV

Journalists and guests look at the Aston Martin DBX SUV at its world premiere in Beijing on Wednesday. (AFP)
Updated 21 November 2019

Aston Martin unveils first SUV

  • The company has struggled financially in recent years, posting a loss of £13.5 million last quarter

BEIJING: British carmaker Aston Martin unveiled its first-ever sports utility vehicle (SUV) on Wednesday at events in Beijing and Los Angeles, signaling it was banking on China’s growing appetite for luxury to prop up sales.

Dubbed the DBX, the new vehicle is the biggest expansion in Aston Martin’s range in the brand’s history, CEO Andy Palmer said at its launch.

The company — whose cars play a central role in the fictional British spy James Bond blockbuster films — has struggled financially in recent years, posting a loss of £13.5 million last quarter.

But with its growing appetite for gas-guzzling SUVs, China presents an opportunity for the ailing carmaker, which has been hit by Brexit woes and slowing demand in Europe.

Founded in 1913, Aston Martin hopes to “more than double” its sales in China, which currently stand at around 500 units per year, Palmer told AFP. Nearly half of all new car purchases registered in China last year were SUVs, according to industry sources.

But the growing demand for SUVs was causing environmental headaches.

Emissions from SUVs were the second-largest contributor to the increase in global carbon dioxide emissions from 2010 to 2018 after power generation, the International Energy Agency said last month.

In that period, SUVs more than doubled their global market share from 17 percent to 39 percent, with a contribution to annual emissions rising to more than 700 megatons of carbon dioxide, the agency said.

Palmer said that the DBX was “obviously geared for performance, that’s what an Aston Martin is all about” when asked about the environmental impact of the new car.

With a four-liter, V8 twin turbo-charged engine, the DBX is capable of a top speed of 181 miles (291km) per hour and doing 0-60 miles (97km) per hour in 4.5 seconds.

Aston Martin says it has splurged on the details and was betting on China’s growing demand for luxury for success.

The five-seater is priced at $189,900 in the US, with officials saying they expected a similar price in China.

Palmer said Aston Martin plans to follow in the footsteps of its German rival Porsche, which unveiled an electric model in September, and relaunch its Lagonda series “as a fully electric brand” by 2022 or 2023.


Big oil feels the heat on climate as industry leader promises: ‘We will be different’

Updated 22 January 2020

Big oil feels the heat on climate as industry leader promises: ‘We will be different’

  • Trump singles out ‘prophets of doom’ for attack
  • Greenpeace told the Davos gathering that the world’s largest banks, funds and insurance companies had invested $1.4 trillion in fossil fuel companies since the Paris climate deal

LONDON: Teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg slammed inaction over climate change as the global oil industry found itself under intense scrutiny on the opening day of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The teenage campaigner went head to head with US President Donald Trump, who dismissed climate “prophets of doom” in his speech.
She in turn shrugged off the US president’s pledge to join the economic forum’s initiative to plant 1 trillion trees to help capture carbon dioxide.
“Planting trees is good, of course, but it’s nowhere near enough,” Thunberg said. “It cannot replace mitigation. We need to start listening to the science and treat this crisis with the importance it deserves,” the 17-year-old said.
The 50th meeting of the World Economic Forum was dominated by the global threat posed by climate change and the carbon economy.
The environmental focus of Davos 2020 caps a year when carbon emissions from fossil fuels hit a record high, and the devastating effects of bushfires in Australia and other climate disasters dominated the news.
Oil company executives from the Gulf and elsewhere are in the spotlight at this year’s Davos meeting as they come under increased pressure to demonstrate how they are reducing their carbon footprint.
“We are not only fighting for our industry’s life but fighting for people to understand the things that we are doing,” said Vicki Hollub, CEO of Occidental, the US-based oil giant with extensive oil operations in the Gulf. “As an industry when we could be different — we will be different.”

‘Planting trees is good, but nowhere near enough,’ activist Greta Thunberg told Davos. (Shutterstock)

She said the company was getting close to being able to sequester significant volumes of CO2 in the US Permian Basin, the heartland of the American shale oil industry which is increasingly in competition with the conventional oil producers of the Arabian Gulf.
“The Permian Basin has the capacity to store 150 gigatons of CO2. That would be 28 years of emissions in the US. That’s the prize for us and that’s the opportunity. People say if you’re sequestering in an oil reservoir then you are producing more oil, but the reality is that it takes more CO2 to inject into a reservoir than the barrel of oil that it makes come out,” Hollub said.
The challenge Occidental and other oil companies face is to make investors understand what is happening in this area of carbon sequesteration, she added.
The investment community at Davos is also looking hard at the oil industry in the face of mounting investor concerns.
Greenpeace told the Davos gathering that the world’s largest banks, funds and insurance companies had invested $1.4 trillion in fossil fuel companies since the Paris climate deal. It accused some of these groups of failing to live up to the World Economic Forum goal of “improving the state of the world.”