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Aston Martin production to increase fivefold: Big expansion of workforce and dealerships planned as luxury sports car manufacturer targets new markets overseas

ASTON Martin Lagonda, the luxury sports car firm owned by Ford, is to increase production fivefold as part of an ambitious worldwide expansion plan that will see it making more cars than at any time in its 80-year history.

Output at the world-famous manufacturer will rise from 150 cars this year to 450 next year with the introduction of the new pounds 80,000, 165mph DB7 model and then climb to between 750 and 800 by 1995.

The pounds 100m-plus expansion will also result in Aston Martin's workforce rising from 271 to about 500 and its worldwide dealer network increasing from 41 to 100 as the company lifts its presence in mainland Europe and targets new markets in the Far East.

Orders for the pounds 148,000 Volante convertible and the pounds 133,600, 170mph Vantage, which has just gone into production at the company's Newport Pagnell base in Buckinghamshire, stand at 140 while more than 100 customers have placed deposits for the DB7, to be launched next April.

Aston Martin expects demand for the Volante and Vantage to remain at about 150 but output of the less expensive DB7 will rise from 280 to 625 in 1995 when it is introduced to the US.

Outlining the strategy, Walter Hayes, Aston Martin's chairman, predicted that demand for the DB7 would outstrip supply next year.

He was speaking as Aston Martin announced that, after a break of 20 years, its central London showroom is to return to Mayfair as part of an agreement with the motor distributor and dealer Pendragon that will also see new dealerships in Frankfurt, Manchester, Cardiff and Derby.

Jaguar, Ford's other luxury car subsidiary, cut its second-quarter losses from dollars 75m last year to dollars 60m while Ford lost dollars 75m on its own European operations compared with a dollars 150m profit in 1992.

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