Aston Martin is setting up its new SUV and electric car plant in Wales with a production line running at twice the speed of its Gaydon HQ factory, as it searches for greater manufacturing efficiency. Workers at the new St Athan plant will have half the time to fit components compared with those at Gaydon, where the Vantage, Rapide, DB11 and DBS Superleggera are built.
The assembly stations at St Athan are planned around a 20-minute ‘Takt’ time – the industry standard for organising production lines – compared with Gaydon’s 39 minutes.
“St Athan will be more efficient because it’s a new plant being set up with the benefit of 15 years of experience of operations at Gaydon,” said Aston Martin. The Welsh plant will make 7000 cars per year, the same number as Gaydon but on one instead of two lines.
St Athan consists of three converted RAF hangars – the first a body-in-white plant, the second a paint shop and the third a final assembly hall.
The factory will launch pilot production of the new DBX next spring, with a series of models known internally as PT2 (for Production Trial 2).
This week, Aston Martin revealed pictures of the first DBX prototypes (see main story), hand-built to PT1 standard but not yet using production tooling. The first customer DBX will roll out late next year.
At the same time, a low-volume ‘skunk works’ plant will build the first of a limited run of 155 luxury-BEV Rapide E models, each costing £250,000.
Based on the Rapide four-door and powered by an 800V, 65kWh battery pack and two rear-mounted motors with a total of 602bhp, the Rapide E will be built in a former warplane paint facility on the St Athan site. Once the limited run is complete, the unit will be converted to a pilot production plant where Aston engineers can trial new production methods for future models.
In 2021, Aston will add the first of its new Lagonda models to the St Athan production line. An electrically powered SUV will relaunch the Lagonda brand, followed by a three-box four-door luxury saloon expected around 2022-2023.