Wales

Aston Martin creates 750 jobs in St Athan

The Aston Martin DBX was unveiled in Cardiff's civic centre on Wednesday
Image caption The Aston Martin DBX was unveiled in Cardiff's civic centre on Wednesday

Aston Martin is to build its new luxury car in south Wales, creating 750 highly-skilled jobs.

The DBX car will be hand-made in a super hangar at St Athan in the Vale of Glamorgan.

It is a major coup for Wales, which took two years to secure the deal ahead of 20 locations across the world.

As well as attracting one of motoring's most prestigious names, it is expected to create about 1,000 jobs with suppliers and local business.

Aston Martin chief executive Andy Palmer called it a "momentous day for Wales" at a news conference in Cardiff on Wednesday.

The development will include a skills academy, which will make St Athan and the Vale of Glamorgan a centre of excellence.

Work on the factory will start in 2017 and production will start three years later.

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Media captionMotoring economist Prof Garel Rhys of Cardiff Business School said it could be the start of a 'second coming' for the car industry in Wales

"We have a wealth of craftsmanship here," said Mr Palmer. "It takes 200 hours to make a car and to do that we need skilled labour and we have got that skilled labour in Wales, in Great Britain and that played a big part in our decision."

The company is also bringing more work to its factory and headquarters at Gaydon in Warwickshire bringing the total of jobs created to 1,000.

The value of the deal is in the hundreds of millions of pounds, although the Welsh government will not comment on the amount of support it is giving.

Mr Palmer said there were a number of reasons why St Athan had been chosen for the new site.

"The Welsh offer wasn't financially enticing but share holders had to understand the balance that had to be made on quality, cost and time, and St Athan was on time," he said.

"We don't have to build a building. It won through in terms of quality of workforce and supplies and relationship with the government of Wales."

Image caption Andy Palmer shakes hands with First Minister Carwyn Jones
Image copyright Welsh Government
Image caption The St Athan site includes the £113m Red Dragon super hangar which was supposed to deliver hundreds of aircraft repair jobs

Each car is individually styled to the buyer's specifications.

In its 103-year history, the company has only sold just over 70,000 cars.

To continue to survive at the luxury end of the market it has been looking at broadening its range to appeal to younger - and female - customers.

The car will start off as a petrol vehicle before being developed into a hybrid and all-electric 4x4.

The prototype was unveiled at the Geneva motor show last year and is expected to cost at least £160,000 to buy.

Mr Palmer said then that the company envisaged a world "perhaps a world not too far away, when luxury GT travel is not only stylish and luxurious but also more practical, more family-friendly and more environmentally responsible".

The design team had in mind a driver who was a young woman, American - and rich. The fictitious customer was dubbed Charlotte and seen as "an attractive lady, cool, in her 30s".

First Minister Carwyn Jones said it was the start of a long-term relationship between Wales and Aston Martin.

"We will work together in building on the strong foundations of our partnership to nurture a prosperous and rewarding future for this iconic company and its skilled workforce in Wales," he said.

Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb called the announcement an "enormous boost" for Wales and the British car industry.

He added: "It is a genuine example of a 'one nation' achievement, with both the UK and Welsh governments working together to attract this prestige manufacturer to Welsh shores."

Speaking on BBC Radio Wales, Mr Palmer said the company had chosen Wales because it was "the best offer".

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Media captionAston Martin video of the DBX launch in Geneva in March 2015

"I don't simply mean in terms of money. What really swung it was the passion and the professionalism of the people we dealt with in Wales," he said.

Economy Minister Edwina Hart AM said: "We had an excellent relationship with Aston Martin at official and ministerial level.

"The important thing for us was ensuring that Aston Martin stayed in the UK, a fine company for the UK.

"We fought very hard to ensure we were on the list and now we've achieved having it.

"This is a win not just for Wales but for the UK."

ASTON MARTIN THROUGH THE YEARS

Image copyright Getty Images/Topical Press Agency
Image caption 1922: Motor racing at Brooklands with Lionel Martin - co-founder of the company in the driving seat
Image copyright Getty Images/Richards
Image caption 1935 - An Aston Martin getting a final polish at the Welsh Motor Rally in Cardiff
Image copyright Getty Images/Keystone
Image caption 1958 - Stirling Moss wins at Goodwood in an Aston Martin with Tony Brooks
Image copyright Getty Images/Victor Blackman
Image caption 1965: The Aston Martin Volante at a motor show at Earl's Court
Image copyright Aubrey Hart/Getty Images
Image caption 1976: The Aston Martin Lagonda
Image copyright AP
Image caption 2011: Prince William after his wedding in his father's classic Aston Martin DB6 Volante
Image copyright PA
Image caption 2015: Daniel Craig and the Aston Martin used in the James Bond film, Spectre
Image caption 2016: The new Aston Martin draped in a Welsh flag outside the Welsh government offices in Cardiff

A GEAR CHANGE FOR THE WELSH CAR INDUSTRY

Mrs Hart called it a "significant moment in the history of the automotive sector in Wales".

Indeed, for the Welsh car industry this is a tremendous pat on the back.

Image copyright Aston Martin
Image caption The Aston Martin DBX was unveiled in Geneva nearly a year ago

It will also put it at the forefront of developing eco-friendly performance vehicles.

Apart from the short-lived Gilbern in the 1960s and early 1970s, whole cars have not been made in Wales before.

But there are 150 companies in Wales making car components, employing 18,000 workers and with a combined turnover of £3.3bn.

Some already make parts for Aston Martin but these are relatively few. But there are many others which already supply Jaguar, Land Rover, Ford and Honda - a record Aston Martin will have taken notice of.

After the announcement, there was disappointment in other areas - including the West Midlands - which had failed to land the deal.

The company said it was not just about money but it was "consistently impressed with the focus on quality, cost and speed from the Welsh government team".

Wales' status as a maker of parts for car assembly plants beyond its borders is about to change - and with style.

Think Aston Martin and you think James Bond, glamorous women and a sense of cool and from 2020, Wales will be part of that world too.

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