Side-Impact Crash Rule Could Close U.S. Aston Martin Stores

By Craig Trudell | August 15, 2014

Aston Martin stores in the U.S. will be unprofitable and could close if the sports-car maker is unable to get an exemption from crash standards that take effect next month, a top dealer said.

The average Aston Martin store will be loss-making if the carmaker can’t sell the DB9 and Vantage, two models that don’t comply with the new side-impact crash rule, said James Walker, chairman of the automaker’s U.S. dealer advisory panel. Without convertible models, which won’t meet the standard by September 2015, all the brand’s dealers would be “in the red,” he wrote in a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration petition.

“The financial viability of Aston Martin dealers is very much in question,” wrote Walker, who confirmed the contents of the letter by telephone. “If dealers make the decision to shutter the franchise, a very likely outcome, the impact on employment is significant.”

Matthew Clarke, an Aston Martin spokesman, said he hadn’t seen the petition and couldn’t immediately comment.

Known for its sports cars featured in James Bond movies, Gaydon, England-based Aston Martin is one of the few ultra- luxury auto producers that doesn’t belong to a larger manufacturing group. The 101-year-old company’s independence has hampered its ability to fund new models, including the next- generation DB9 and Vantage, which have been delayed.

Next month, U.S. regulators will begin implementing an additional crash test meant to protect passengers from sideway- collisions into utility poles, trees and other narrow, fixed objects. Aston Martin last year requested an exemption for the DB9 through August 2016 and for the Vantage through August 2017.

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