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.


Microsoft shares fall 4% after warning of coronavirus hit to supply chain

Updated 28 February 2020

Microsoft shares fall 4% after warning of coronavirus hit to supply chain

  • Drop in share price wiped off nearly $50 billion from the Microsoft’s market value
  • Apple was the first big technology firm to come out and say the virus was affecting its production and demand in China

NEW YORK: Shares of Microsoft Corp. fell more than 4 percent on Thursday after the company warned of weakness in PC business due to a hit to its supply chain from the coronavirus outbreak, echoing similar statements from Apple Inc. and HP.

The drop in share price wiped off nearly $50 billion from the Microsoft’s market value on a day when broader markets were down more than 2 percent.

The virus has so far infected about 80,000 people, killed nearly 2,800 and spread to 44 countries, after originating in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.

Apple was the first big technology firm to come out and say the virus was affecting its production and demand in China. PayPal Holdings Inc. and Mastercard Inc. have also warned about a possible hit.

Microsoft said on Wednesday its supply chain was returning to normal operations at a slower pace than anticipated and its Windows and Surface computers had been more negatively impacted than expected.

“Finished good inventory levels matter. If Microsoft had not fully assembled and packaged Surface units in the channel, then the impact would be felt faster and more severely,” Morningstar analyst Dan Romanoff said in a mail.

The global stock markets have also taken a hit as investors grew cautious of the impact of the virus on global supply chains. The Dow Jones Industrials index dropped more than 400 points at the open on Thursday.

Several Wall Street analysts expect other technology companies with heavy presence in China to soon come out with their own statements.

“Given there seems to be weakness in the PC supply chain, it would seem highly likely to me that we hear something from Intel,” Atlantic Equities analyst James Cordwell said in a mail.

Andrew MacMillen, an analyst with Nucleus Research, said that PC makers such as Dell Technologies Inc. and Lenovo Group could be seeing some difficulties.

Dell, the world’s third-biggest PC maker after Lenovo Group and HP, will report quarterly earnings after market close on Thursday. It has a sizeable exposure to China.

Microsoft said on Wednesday it would miss its own third quarter revenue forecast for the PC unit, which houses Windows, of $10.75 billion and $11.15 billion. 

J.P.Morgan analysts said that Microsoft’s guidance is a supply chain issue, not a demand issue, but it was possible that broad supply chain issues plus investors becoming increasingly averse to risk could metastasize into demand issues over time.