Tobias Moers: Aston Martin’s new boss outlines brand’s radical plans

Published: 19 May 2021

► CAR talks to new Aston boss Tobias Moers
► Complete product overhaul, F1 involvement
► For the full story, grab our June 2021 issue

Meet Tobias Moers, CEO of Aston Martin as of 1 August 2020. After 26 years at AMG, the wiry, curly-haired father of two picked up the phone last spring to return a call to Lawrence Stroll, Canadian billionaire, motor racing aficionado and (then) soon-to-be majority shareholder of the well-respected British car maker. The British car maker that has, in its rollercoaster history, filed for bankruptcy no less than seven times.

Under normal circumstances, the veteran AMG manager would have been immune to such a drastic career change. But after Mercedes appointed Markus Schäfer instead of Moers as its new R&D chief in 2019, opportunity eclipsed loyalty.

'I accepted,' recalls the new man in charge, 'and I am glad I did. This position opens a new perspective and a different life altogether. True, every working day has a surprise in store. But that's okay because Lawrence and I get along very well. Ten months down the road, we are still meeting frequently to hone strategic issues shoulder-to-shoulder.'

tobias moers

Before his first ever visit to Gaydon, Moers gathered as much information as possible about Aston's strengths and weaknesses. He had been warned about a British old-boys' network pulling the strings, the abysmal productivity, the recurrent clashes between reality and wishful thinking, and the gaping holes in the cycle plan as well as in the budget.

But the situation upon arrival turned out to be even bleaker than anticipated. Management was over-staffed with under-performers, the complex production process kept shooting itself in the foot, and the poor return on investment was duly reflected in a volatile share price.

Moers on what needs changing first

aston group

'Some things were obviously fundamentally wrong,' recalls Moers. 'We were, for instance, wasting cash on a new V6 [set to power two of the three cars in Palmer's proposed mid-engined range]. It did not even comply with EU7 regulations at a point in time when it was already clear that combustion powerplants will soon be a thing of the past. The Valkyrie was so drastically over-budget that it now needs two more variants to pull it out of the red. And the laudable decision to go electric was for some reason tied to the Lagonda brand, one which had – and still has – an uncertain future.'

Although he won't openly admit it, Moers swiftly pulled the plug on the V6 and directed the cash flow (then more of a trickle) towards full electrification and a portfolio rethink. The revolution will come in 2025, when the first of two new pure-electric sports-car families developed by Aston with AMG's backing is scheduled to debut.

Read more on this feature in the June issue of CAR magazine, out now

Highlights of the next couple of years will be the Valkyrie hypercar, its offspring, the Valhalla supercar, and a couple of hybrid versions of the DBX SUV. In addition, the long-running V12 engine (currently a 5.2) gets a power boost along with a change of character from low-end torque to an explosive top end. There's also an S version of the DBX in the works.

dbx off road

But the biggies are major facelifts and tech updates for the sports cars. Says Moers: 'There are in-depth modifications under way for the Vantage, DB11 and DBS. In addition to design changes and functional improvements, the interiors will be totally reworked with up-to-date connectivity, enhanced digitisation and new assistance systems. We're also going to rethink the AMR sub-brand. The cars should be more dynamic in the way they look and drive. The six-speed manual, however, will soon be history.'

Talking of the Vantage, one of Moers' first acts in charge was to tap out a brief to his key staff: 'Build me a track-focused Vantage'. So the engineers did.

But what of Lagonda? Moers leans back and takes a swig from his water bottle before answering. 'This is not a top priority. Lagonda certainly won't become our leading EV brand. I see it more as a foray into the luxury market in China and the US. But the prime goal is to reimagine Aston Martin and define its electric future.'

Vantage F1 edition

'Brand management is a multi-faceted task,' explains the German with the English work permit. 'We are in the process of revising our personalisation and individualisation schemes, including the new-car configurator. From now on, this programme won't only be about fancier colours and additional trim options. I am also pushing for a new level of craftsmanship to make our form language and interior designs even more special and I want engineering upgrades to be substantial rather than skin-deep. And we have only just begun to explore the full halo effect of motor racing. Let's face it: Lawrence Stroll is in Formula 1 to win the championship. It won't happen this year, but the title is our ultimate goal.'

Aston Martin's longer-term road map

Once the revised DB11, next Vantage and the modified DBS have come to market, there will be some overlap with the all-new electric sports cars, due to launch in 2026 at the latest.

'We have yet to define the end of these production runs, but once the strict EU7 emissions norm is in place, certain petrol-engined versions will only be eligible for export,' explains Moers. 'As a result, we need to prepare a new generation of cars based on a new fully electric matrix. Ultimately, there will be no more V8 and no more plug-in hybrids.'

While the next evolution of the Vantage retains the familiar, front-engined V8 layout, the future fully electric variant is to assume the characteristics of an even more involving mid-engined driving machine.

In place of the DB11 and DBS, we expect a four-seater coupe which shares the short front overhang with the smaller model while displaying a longer wheelbase and a longer tail. Provisionally labelled DBE but likely to switch to a new nomenclature, this version is to feature bespoke high-energy batteries. In the long run, the most dynamic Astons may be fused with the next AMG GT and GT 4-Door, just as the future DBX could share genetic elements with the EQE and EQS, both on the Mercedes EVA2 platform. Whichever way you look at it, Aston Martin is all set to become a dedicated EV brand.

At its best, Aston already does highly emotional user experiences – just un-cork the DBS's V12, or find yourself tackling a wild moorland road in the thrilling DBX. Moers' AMGs were also big on the same. Aston Martin and Tobias Moers may yet be a match made in heaven.

Read more on this feature in the June issue of CAR magazine, out now

By Georg Kacher

European editor, secrets uncoverer, futurist, first man behind any wheel