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Aston Martin officially opens new factory in St Athan
Aston Martin has officially opened its new manufacturing plant in St Athan, South Wales.
Once full production is underway in the second quarter of 2020, the company will have created up to 600 new highly-skilled jobs at the site, rising to 750 at peak production.
While Gaydon, Warwickshire continues to be the home and global headquarters of the company’s sports car production, St Athan will be the home of Aston Martin’s first recently-launched SUV, the DBX.
The 90-acre former Ministry of Defence (MOD) site was announced as the second UK plant for Aston Martin Lagonda in early 2016 and since then the whole site has been transformed into a modern manufacturing facility for hand-crafted British cars.
At a ceremony to open the British luxury marque’s new facility, Aston Martin Lagonda president and group chief executive, Dr Andy Palmer, said: “Opening our new manufacturing facility at St Athan today is a pivotal day for Aston Martin and a vote of confidence in the UK, with the facility projected to employ up to 750 highly-skilled workers at its peak.
“St Athan is a critical step in delivering our new car, DBX, which will be built in the new facility. The opening of St Athan is a hugely important milestone in the company’s growth plan and integral to our ambitions as a global luxury brand with a presence in all major sectors of the market.”
First minister of Wales, Rt Hon Mark Drakeford AM, added: “Today is a proud moment for Aston Martin, the Welsh Government and for Wales. Locating this world class and globally recognised brand in St Athan is a huge vote of confidence in the Welsh workforce. It is an example of the Welsh Government’s support and can-do attitude driving economic growth and creating jobs. I look forward to the first made-in-Wales Aston Martin’s rolling off the production line next year.”
As soon as the purchase of the MOD site was announced in February 2016, Aston Martin launched a recruitment campaign in Cardiff, which attracted over 3,000 applicants, and within six months the first 40 employees had been hired. This new Welsh workforce began their careers with Aston Martin at its Gaydon headquarters, building DB11s. This core group of experts are now training new employees at St Athan as the workforce grows, ready for the start of DBX production in the second quarter of 2020.
Andy Palmer concluded: “Everyone involved in the creation of our new St Athan facility should feel proud today. It has taken a lot of hard work to get to this point. Our core business of producing beautiful, hand-crafted cars in England is now extended to Wales, which is extremely pertinent to us as a GREAT British company.“
The transformation from military site to manufacturing facility
In 2016, Aston Martin Lagonda chose the 90-acre St Athan to be its newest centre of manufacturing excellence in the UK. RAF St Athan officially opened in 1938 as the home of the No.4 School of Technical Training, which was soon expanded with the arrival of a fighter group pool the following year. The base was home to 14,000 personnel during World War II and was used for training both ground and air crew.
After the war, St Athan continued primarily as a training facility and also the major RAF maintenance base for aircraft including Vulcan, Phantom, Harrier, Tornado and Hawk. The last aircraft to be serviced there departed the site in February 2012.
Since 2016, St Athan has undergone a three-year transformation from Royal Air Force base to state-of-the-art manufacturing facility.
Phase I of construction began in late 2016 with the creation of the customer and staff reception areas, administration and management offices and the employee restaurant. Phase II got underway in Spring 2017 after the ceremonial handover of the three super-hangars that now house the new manufacturing facility from the MOD. The final phase to fit out the now converted super-hangars got underway in late 2018, ready for pre-production to commence in 2019.
The completion of the St Athan facility means that it joins the marque’s Gaydon headquarters and its Wellesbourne and Newport Pagnell facilities as a centre of the highest quality of British craftmanship and engineering.
Aston Martin’s first luxury SUV
Revealed last month, the Aston Martin DBX will go into full production at St Athan in the second quarter of 2020. The British marque’s first SUV has been through an intensive development process, which fittingly began in the forests of Wales to test the mettle of the new, dedicated SUV platform.
The commencement of production of the Aston Martin DBX will be an important moment for the brand. The DBX is a true Aston Martin; it captures the very spirit of the brand as a beautiful hand-built, yet technologically advanced car. Around 90% of production is expected to be exported and sold overseas.