Daimler has raised its stake in British sports car maker Aston Martin as the Anglo-German alliance strengthens, it emerged today.
The Mercedes-Benz parent company grew its stakeholding by 1% on 31 July 2014, the company confirmed. Daimler now owns 5% of Aston Martin.
‘We didn’t make an announcement, but it is true that Daimler increased its stake in Aston Martin to 5% at the end of last month,’ a spokeswoman confirmed to CAR.
The news comes as the two companies are moving closer together. Daimler has already agreed to cooperate on engine supply, which is likely to lead to AMG engines - V8s and, possibly, V12s - appearing in future Astons, as the company moves away from the Ford-era motors.
CAR magazine recently spied this Vantage and DB9 duo on test in Europe. While we don’t yet know exactly what’s under the bonnet of these Aston Martin prototypes, we wouldn’t be at all surprised to hear they’re testing Mercedes AMG engines.
Why is Daimler increasing its stake in Aston Martin?
The modest shift in ownership is only a single percentage point, but that’s enough to liberate useful extra funds for Gaydon, which faces huge investment bills for a car company going it alone. Aston Martin is unusual on the global stage for having no major car group backing it.
Could Daimler buy Aston Martin outright? Possibly, but it’s not an immediate priority. Many in Stuttgart remember the ill-conceived Chrysler venture, and it’s only recently rowed back from its relationship with McLaren Automotive. But a significant cross-holding remains a real possibility.
What does Daimler part-ownership mean for Aston Martin?
In the short term, this week’s announcement means that Daimler will provide Aston with electrical architectures in addition to V8 engines. This is surely good news for Aston, which has struggled to develop cutting-edge wiring looms and electronic gizmos required by modern-day customers.
For years, Aston was saddled with Volvo hand-me-downs and it has only recently replaced the shonky pop-up sat-nav that first appeared in ageing S80s with off-the-shelf units from navigation specialists.
But Daimler and Aston Martin are now working hard to adapt AMG engines for use in forthcoming sports cars.
And although the first model to revive the Lagonda brand has been confirmed as a luxury sports saloon, it seems inevitable that an SUV will eventually join the fray. Mercedes-Benz’s GL is a prime candidate as the donor vehicle.
The news that Daimler has grown its shareholding means that Aston is now owned by multiple owners. London-based Investindustrial bought a 37.5% share of Aston in December 2012, while other owners include Kuwaiti financial bodies Investment Dar and Adeem Investment.
All will be keen for a return on their investment, which means those Aston prototypes you see in our latest spy photos are more important than ever. Both for the bean-counters who are watching, hawk-like, and enthusiasts like us, desperate for signs of the next generation of Aston Martins.