Aston Martin to open Abu Dhabi showroom in Etihad Towers

Aston Martin is making its presence felt in Abu Dhabi.

The luxury marque, best known for its appearance in James Bond films, yesterday announced it plans to open a showroom in Etihad Towers in the first quarter of next year.

It also launched the track-only Aston Martin Vulcan priced at £1.5 million (Dh8.3m).

Richard Foulds, the head of property management at Etihad Towers, said he expects to “imminently sign a deal” with the car maker.

The 450 square metre showroom will be capable of displaying five cars. Meanwhile Aston Martin will sell branded merchandise through an outlet at the Avenue, also in the same complex.

Aston Martin said it plans to limit the production of the 800-plus bhp Vulcan to 24 units, with the cars being sold on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Simon Croft, the launch strategy manager at Aston Martin, said the company plans to hold at least three track day events for Vulcan owners next year.

The first will be held at the Yas Marina circuit in February next year, followed by Silverstone in the UK in June, and Spa in Belgium in September.

Aston Martin’s arrival in Abu Dhabi comes as some of its key markets including the Gulf and China, face economic headwinds.

Analysts see sales of high-end luxury car makers holding up, despite the current economic slowdown.

BMI Research expects the region to be an “outperformer” in its sales forecasts for both this year and next.

“We have emphasised in recent years that we see the UAE and Saudi Arabia as safe havens for growth within the GCC, given their stability and economic strength, even in the face of lower oil prices,” said Anna-Marie Baisden, head of autos research at BMI Research.

IHS, however, is more cautious in its outlook. The consultancy expects sales of high-end luxury cars such as Aston Martin, Bentley, Ferrari, Lamborghini, McLaren and Rolls-Royce to climb this year but dip back again for the next couple of years.

“Although the oil price is likely to be partly behind this move, there is also model cycle factors which come in to play,” said Ian Fletcher, an IHS analyst.

Some models such as Rolls-Royce Wraith, Lamborghini Huracan and Bentley Flying Spur, are starting to lose that initial lustre and their sales are likely to be affected, Mr Fletcher said.

In May, the ratings agency Moody’s Investors Service changed its outlook for Aston Martin to stable from negative because of the sufficient funding it has received from its existing shareholders to support its critical product development plan over the next 18 months.

Kuwait’s Investment Dar is a key shareholder with a 24 per cent stake.

The company’s shareholders had agreed to inject new capital in the form of preference shares to the tune of £200m.

“Unit sales growth will accelerate within 18 to 24 months, reflecting core model renewals,” Moody’s said.

Forecasts from IHS show Aston Martin’s global sales reaching 3,665 units this year, rising 2.9 per cent to 3,772 next year and jumping significantly to 6,169 units in 2018.

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