It’s official, the Aston Martin hypercar seen last month at the Canadian International Auto Show (CIAS) now has a name: Valkyrie.
It was known only as the “AM-RB 001” when it made its global auto show debut on the floor in Toronto. The letters came from “Aston Martin” and “Red Bull,” joint creators of the partly Canadian car. The new “Valkyrie” name follows Aston’s policy of using the letter “V,” like it does with Vantage, Vanquish, and Vulcan.
Aston also announced this week at the Geneva Motor Show that such hypercars will be built under a new ultra-high-performance arm of Aston Martin, known as AMR, for “Aston Martin Racing.” It’s a similar branding model to Mercedes-Benz’s AMG division, or BMW’s M.
This is good news for Markham-based Multimatic Corp., which builds the carbon-fibre bodies for all Aston Martin’s concepts and hypercars. Known as “tubs,” the bodies are created at the plant outside Toronto and shipped to the U.K., where the rest of the vehicle is assembled.
Multimatic also helps design various components, including the suspension and chassis. It can even build an entire car, as it did for the one-off DB10 featured in the latest James Bond film, Spectre, and as it’s still doing for the new Ford GT.
Little is known about the Valkyrie. It’s still a concept, and there was no interior inside the car on display at the CIAS, but we know it will have a mid-mounted V12 engine designed by Cosworth and a transmission built by Ricardo.
Aston Martin’s CEO Andy Palmer recently spoke to Autofocus in Toronto and let slip a few more juicy details.
AutoFocus: Why do you use Canadian company Multimatic to build the bodies?
Palmer: We wouldn’t have been able to do some of the fantastic things we’ve been doing recently without them. In the timescales that we give our partners to do something like Vulcan, which was done in nine months, you need a partner in which you can trust, and who trusts you. That’s really important.
Basically, relationships are based on working together for a long time and mutual trust, and we just have that with Multimatic. Yes, there are other carbon-fibre suppliers out there, but we just get along really well.
Fundamentally, they do any of the cars for us that have significant carbon-fibre input. They do a little bit of engineering, but predominantly, they’re our carbon [people].
Didn’t they build the James Bond car, too?
Yes, they were very much involved in DB10. That was a project that was done under enormous pressures, because they weren’t going to move the timing of throwing it into the Tiber [river]. An amazing few minutes. The farther you go away from the United Kingdom, the more James Bond defines the brand. And of course, my job is to make sure that we have other things that define the brand as well, but undoubtedly, James Bond is a great brand ambassador for us.
When will we see the Valkyrie on the road?
2019, on the road. 150 of them will be on the road, and 25 of them will be on the track, so 175 cars all together.
Will it cost a million dollars?
Much more. We haven’t disclosed the price – in our world, it’s not elegant to talk about price – but roughly speaking, depending on the specification of the car, between two and three million pounds. Pounds. They’re all sold out. We haven’t released the 25 for the track yet, but the 150 road cars, I could have sold those four times over. And I have to choose you to buy one.
Why does Aston Martin care about Canada?
Canada is an important market—we sell about 50 cars a year here. Contextually, we sell about 4,000 cars a year. Obviously that’s growing, but it’s capped at 7,000 a year out of our factory at Gaydon for sports cars. Canada is not huge for us, but it’s a good market for us. We’ve got good customers, particularly in Toronto, and it’s visible to North America.
A market that does 50 cars is pretty good. If you go around the world, there’s only really the U.K. and the U.S. that’s selling Aston Martin in big numbers. U.K. and U.S. sell about 1,000 cars each, then you go 50 in Korea, perhaps 200 in Japan, 200 in China, and that’s the accumulation, so Canada’s sales are not to be sniffed at.
You’ve said Aston Martins will always have a manual transmission as an option—why? Aren’t they antiquated?
There is still a small number of people that are rich enough and have enough passion that they want something very special. It’s odd – I know it’s odd – but they’re moving in the opposite direction. I mean, they have in their garage, no doubt, a commodity car that will drive them from A to B without stirring their heart, but basically, every man or woman needs a man-cave, a garden shed or whatever, and for many people, that’s the car: you drive it at the weekend and you want to raise your pulse rate.
You want to make a statement about yourself. You want to be seen as [somebody who’s] elegant and tasteful and understanding beauty, and you want to connect with the car. Whilst a manual gearbox isn’t the key to that, it is so much more involving. And I started my career designing manual gearboxes, of course.
Does the Valkyrie offer a manual gearbox?
This has got a rather special gearbox designed especially for this car by Ricardo. Six forward gears and one reverse, but they’re not gears as you and I would instantly recognize them. I mean, it’s carrying an enormous amount of power. It’s no secret that it’s more than a one-to-one power-to-weight ratio, and the car weighs less than a tonne.
What’s the point of it?
The mission of the car is to be able to drive around Silverstone racetrack as quickly as a race-trimmed Formula One car from the 2016 season, but then you’ll be able to drive it on the road on the way home.
In terms of what it does for Aston, it allows us to demonstrate the advanced technology that perhaps people don’t perceive us for, which is basically the lightweight use of aluminum and carbon-fibre, and the way we put our cars together. We bond our cars, we stick them together, we don’t weld them like other manufacturers. It allows us to demonstrate our prowess, if you will, on aerodynamics.
It also allows our designers to explore the Aston DNA and look, when expressed in a mid-engined car—which of course implies that we have other mid-engined cars coming in the future. And hopefully, you can look at this car and see that nearly all that aero work is going through the diffuser; you can still see the hint of the Aston grille in there, which gives you a clue about what part of our future will be.
I don’t fear talking about our future portfolio because fundamentally, we only compete with ourselves. We have people who share a wallet, but is an Aston really competing with a Ferrari? They’re very different cars. Are we really competing with Rolls-Royce, for example? So yes, we compete in share of wallet, but in terms of the raison-d’etre of the car, I don’t think there’s anybody who does grand tourers in the same way that we do.