Autonomous cars are coming and automakers are desperately clawing to make strides in the segment. Falling behind now could lead automotive manufacturers to play catch-up for the foreseeable future. But there’s one group of automakers that haven’t entered the self-driving fold just yet – high-end sports car makers. That is, until now.
At the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto, Aston Martin CEO Dr. Andy Palmer not only unveiled the incredible AM-RB 001, but he also took some time to reveal that the brand would have an autonomous offering in the near future. Palmer, according to TechCrunch stated that autonomous cars are the way forward and, while Aston Martin is in no rush to meet the needs of the growing segment, a self-driving Lagonda will happen eventually.
I, for one, think it’s a brilliant idea, but one that needs to be expanded to the rest of its lineup.
Sports cars are meant to be driven and enjoyed. They are not vehicles that should be used to give people rides. That’s why Ferrari and Lamborghini will still be insanely popular in the future, despite not having a self-driving car in their lineup. But Aston Martin needs to change. And this is the perfect way of doing it.
Before the release of the all-new Aston Martin DB11, the British automaker was in a rut, losing large amounts of money to its competitors. From the outside looking in, the loss of money is primarily due to Aston’s aging lineup. The current Vanquish, for instance, was unveiled in 2012 with the S variant being the most recent vehicle in the family. The DB9 was introduced back in 2003 and hasn’t changed much since, while the Vantage is from 2005.
Somewhere along the line, Aston Martin thought it was a good idea to lightly update its vehicles instead of coming out with brand new models. A report from Automotive News last summer claimed 2015 was the fifth consecutive year where the automaker failed to make a profit. As one of the first new vehicles from Aston in years, there’s a lot riding on the DB11 for the brand and moving upstream into the technology-heavy world of autonomous cars would be a good thing.
Sports cars may not need autonomous tech, but having a luxurious, four-door sedan with self-driving capabilities wouldn’t be such a bad thing. Having older, two-door sports cars aimed at drivers that want a plush ride on longer journeys hasn’t been working that well for the automaker. And adding something that’s more modern into its lineup would help bring the brand into 21st century.
As I don’t have enough money, and will probably never have enough funds, to purchase an Aston Martin, I’m not sure what brands prospective buyers are cross-shopping Aston with. My best guess would be Porsche, Bentley, Maserati, and, just maybe, Ferrari. I can’t see Porsche packing a 911 or the 718 Boxster/Cayman with autonomous features, but Bentley did showcase a self-driving car with a holographic butler last year.
Being one of the first high-end automakers to introduce a sporty, luxurious sedan with autonomous features would put Aston Martin in a class of its own, besides the Tesla Model S of course. And while I wouldn’t be a huge fan of having autonomous features in a sports car, I think prospective buyers that would use the vehicles as intended – for a cross-country barrage – would benefit from being able to enjoy the finer things in an Aston without worrying about aiming the car down a straight road for hours.
Going autonomous would help Aston finally turn a profit and would see the automaker go from playing catch-up to being first in an emerging segment. At the end of the day, I’d rather have a car that can drive itself if I’m not in the “mood” to drive than see a sports car automaker go down the SUV/crossover rabbit hole.