Posted by: Ian Rowley on June 30, 2009
It’s seems an unlikely combination, but is the deal between Toyota and Aston Martin, announced yesterday, such a bad idea? Under the plan, Aston Martin will sell a version of the tiny Toyota iQ (pictured above) called the Cygnet to existing clients. The price is likely to be around $30,000. “Small is beautiful these days,” Ulrich Bez, Aston Martin’s chief executive said yesterday reports the Times of London. “We have to move on from the preconceived ideas regarding what Aston Martin is about.”
Predictably, most comments on car blogs have been pretty harsh, ranging from outright rage to disbelief. But why not? The iQ, while not exactly a popular sight on Japan’s roads—I think I’ve seen four since it was released late last year—is a fun, innovative car. In Cygnet form, may be useful for Aston Martin when fuel economy regulations get stricter in the years ahead. Aston Martin when fuel economy regulations get stricter in the years ahead. It may also help Aston Martin enthusiasts assuage concerns, assuming they have any, about the environmental damage caused by their 4.8 liter V8 or 6.0 liter V12 Vantages. And as it’s only going to be sold to Aston Martin owners, it’s not as if the hoi polloi will be able to get their hands on one easily.
From Toyota’s point of view, even a small association with a brand like Aston Martin, won’t do any harm. New president Akio Toyoda insisted on June 25, at his first press conference as Toyota chief, that cars must be more than just appliances for getting from A to B.
Interestingly, the move seems to have stemmed from a racing friendship built up between Toyoda and Bez. At the June 25 press conference, the Japanese exec name-checked Bez when asked about his love of racing. Under the pseudonym Morizo, Toyoda has been known (most recently in May) to drive a Lexus LF-A in races at Germany’s Nürburgring circuit. Bez, a fellow racer, got in touch with Toyoda after seeing an iQ on show at the track. When asked if he would quit racing now he is boss of the world’s biggest carmaker, Toyoda admitted his colleagues were urging him to hang up his racing overalls but (somewhat unconvincingly) said that driving around the ‘Ring was a good way to test new cars. If the Aston Martin deal works out, perhaps he can use that as an additional argument if he wants to keep racing.