Aston Martin CEO drops warning for mass-market car brands

2019 Aston Martin DB11 AMR

Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer echoed other prominent industry executives and offered up a warning to mass-market car brands: adapt or risk extinction.

Palmer made the comments at an presentation on Wednesday and struck a similar tone to Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles CEO, Sergio Marchionne. The FCA CEO delivered a similar warning in 2015 and urged mass-market automakers to merge and reduce redundancies in building nearly identical cars.

“In our industry, there are too many capital junkies spending billions and getting too little return for it,” Palmer said, who previously worked for Nissan.

The Aston Martin CEO painted a bleak picture where the automobile quickly moves toward becoming a commodity, especially as electric cars and self-driving vehicles begin to proliferate. Palmer drew comparisons to the aviation industry as a prime example of what happens to commodities.

In his remarks, he noted that just four major companies build airplanes while “there are more than 75 automotive nameplates in Europe.” He added that the world does not need multiple companies building the same vehicle.

Instead, Palmer called for a new business model that capitalizes on a buyer’s desire to own beautiful and emotional cars. Fortunately for the Aston Martin CEO, his company has decades of experience doing just that. Mass-market brands, on the other hand, do not.

Palmer and Marchionne aren’t the only ones to have peered into their crystal balls. Former BMW, Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors executive Bob Lutz painted a dark picture last year for the automotive industry. The industry veteran predicted cars that don’t drive themselves will eventually be legislated off public roads, although enthusiasts will still have private tracks to take advantage of. The car will merely become the horse of today, per Lutz.

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