Tobias Moers has an innate understanding of two things: engineering and detail. Appointed to the role of Aston Martin CEO in August 2020, the Freiburg-born businessman comes from a hands-on tradition of automotive leaders. He trained as an engineer and has impressive experience of the fast-changing demands that design and technology make on the modern luxury automotive industry. Moers brings a new generation of knowledge and experience that will steer the company through the challenges of the modern era. Now he is approaching one year in the role. How has he changed the way the company designs, engineers and builds cars?
Since early 2020, Aston Martin has run two main manufacturing facilities, at the company’s headquarters at Gaydon in Warwickshire and the new factory at St Athan in South Wales. Both sites offered scope for consolidation and renewed emphasis on skills and expertise. Moers’s primary focus has been to bring the company’s innate talents together, ensuring that sports car production at Gaydon is combined into a single, more efficient production line, allowing St Athan to focus on the production of the DBX and its forthcoming variants. In addition, the state-of-the-art paint shop at St Athan is now online and serves as Aston Martin’s primary paint facility (see page 40). These logistical refinements have allowed Moers to bring other key elements of the company together for the first time. For example, Aston Martin’s special projects, including the V12 Speedster and the Aston Martin Valkyrie, are now built in a dedicated new facility at Gaydon.
As Moers walks the factory floor, meeting and greeting his colleagues, he explains how his primary task has been to empower the men and women on the assembly lines. “Personal responsibility is crucial. We have traditional handcraft processes, which means intense manual interaction with the car,” he says. “With that, you also need to give ultimate responsibility and accountability to those workers. It improves pride, which improves quality. As a result, the cars coming off our assembly line are better than ever before.”
By inverting the existing procedures, issues that were previously dealt with at the end of the production line are now tackled as they are raised, further streamlining the production process. This is best illustrated by the creation of a single integrated line at Gaydon. Today, every Aston Martin core sports car model — Vantage, DB11 and DBS — travels down this line. As we walk past partly completed cars, Moers points out many details, whether they’re improvements or enhancements still to be made.
Aston Martin’s new configurator system emphasises the huge breadth of choices available to customers. Moers describes it as providing “the highest expression of personalisation ever on an Aston Martin.” This top tier of bespoke processes — from paint and trim to materials — is being allocated its own dedicated space at Gaydon. Customer visits to the factory are “very important to us,” Moers says, and will remain a vital part of the Aston Martin approach.
At Gaydon, the renewed line is cleaner and less cluttered, with a dedicated kit box of parts accompanying each car down the line. Responsibility for quality has been devolved to leaders in each section, rather than being assessed by a roving team. “It’s a huge improvement,” says Moers. “Now everything is under one roof. When you’re working on the assembly line and you see a Valkyrie drive down into the light tunnel, it’ll be very impressive.
Above all, there are the cars to consider. “At the end of the day, products underpin the brand approach,” Moers says. “We’re moving on with our mid-engine programmes. The DBX will be even more successful in the future, because it gives us a strong platform for variations and that is really important.” Moers, however, won’t be drawn — or distracted — by how these necessary changes to the culture and ethos of designing, building and driving cars will shape the Aston Martins of the near future.
The Aston Martin Cognizant Formula 1 Team’s campaign has given the brand’s sporting heritage a huge boost, with Sebastian Vettel achieving the first ever Aston Martin Formula 1 podium in Baku in June. The marque’s presence has been further increased by the introduction of the Vantage as the new official FIA Formula 1 Safety Car, and the Aston Martin DBX as the official Medical Car. The successful launch of the Aston Martin Vantage F1 Edition, together with the raw intensity of the V12 Speedster and the earth-shattering performance of the Valkyrie, show that performance is still central to the brand.
Moers is certainly determined to bring new levels of precision and driveability to the cars. “The GT has evolved over the past few years,” he explains. “We have the ambition for Aston Martin to be number one. It’s that simple.”
This story is an extract from an article featured in the AM48 issue of Aston Martin magazine, out now. If you're not already a subscriber, visit magazine.astonmartin.com/magazine-subscription so that you can read the full story.