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Will Mercedes buy out Aston Martin?
Merc’s AMG division signed an agreement to supply Aston Martin with engines.
But was that, as widely rumoured, just the first step in a German takeover of
Britain’s most venerable sports car maker? Top Gear caught up with AMG boss
Tobias Moers to find out – and grill him on the new AMG GT sports car.
up, the big one: is Merc planning to buy out Aston? Can the Gaydon firm survive
without more Mercedes involvement?
“That [AM’s disappearance] would be the result if we hadn’t stepped in,” says Moers. But is it just an engine deal, or is AMG looking at more than that? “Just the engines,” he says. “We provide them with the engines and the electronic architecture – this is something that can kill you if you don’t have an automotive sugar daddy.”
Pushing Moers on the details of the partnership, he puts it this way: AMG is a supplier and is quite busy enough with its own stuff to be thinking too much about buying AM, thanks very much.
“Aston Martin has to do a lot of homework to integrate the new engines and electronics,” he says. “No one has the time to discuss any more involvement than that for now.”
So if not just the first step in a much larger deal, the Aston deal must be all about the cash? “Of course,” says Moers. “There is a business case for AMG. If we didn’t make a profit there would be no sense to it.”
And there’s nothing more to the rumours about AM sharing the platforms for the GL and SL?
“Look,” says Moers. “The homework for these guys at Aston for the next two to three years is so big, just for the engines. All these rumours about platform sharing are nice but no one at Aston or Mercedes has the time to discuss them.”
The main reason for that lack of time is that Moers is busy preparing AMG’s second car, the Mercedes AMG GT. It’s plunging into what Moers refers to as the ‘ambitious sports car segment’, currently headed by the Porsche 911. Will the AMG GT have the spurs to beat that?
Moers isn’t saying. But he is saying this: “When AMG steps into a segment we have never stepped into before – like A45, like SLS – we are not driven by existing thinking. We are driven by our competitive racing attitude to get on the podium.” If the firm’s current F1 form is anything to go by, the AMG GT shouldn’t be too shabby, then.
But let’s wait until the GT’s launch in September. Lewis might have wrapped up the championship by then. Maybe AMG will do the same for the sports car market shortly afterwards.
On the subject of F1, Top Gear asks Moers if we’ll see any trickle-down from the firm’s racing operation to its road cars. The answer is an unequivocal ‘yes’. “A good example of the transfer of tech from F1 to the road cars, is the battery for the SLS Electric Drive,” he says.
“Brixworth [where the engines for the F1 cars are developed at Merc’s ‘HPP’ facility] brought the knowledge for the F1 KERS systems to that car. The result was a 60KWh capacity battery with a 552kW (751hp) output weighing just 520kg.”
Impressive, but still a little esoteric. On pushing Moers for more everyday applications, he backs off the mechanical stuff and gets all philosophical.
“It’s not always about the technology,” he says. “It’s more about the AMG attitude of always striving for more driving performance, always being one step ahead. Our engineering attitude is exactly the same at HPP as it is at AMG.”
On the high concept stuff, someone at AMG must have tried to fit one of the new F1 engines into a Mercedes, no? “Ha, no,” says Moers. “We have had that idea but we did not execute it.”
Is that because of lack of a time and something that wouldn’t be ruled out in the future? “I would rule it out completely,” says Moers, shutting the door on that idea. “Because that’s impossible.”
OK, so what exactly is the relevance of the new F1 cars to road cars then? The answers are coming, says Moers. ‘There will be a more intensive co-operation between Brixworth and AMG for the engines of the future.”
How long? Two, five years? “No, that is much too long,” says Moers. “We are impatient…”