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NHTSA Grants Aston Martin Temporary Exemption From Upcoming Safety Rules

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On: Tue, Nov 4, 2014 at 1:38PM | By: Carl Malek

NHTSA Grants Aston Martin Temporary Exemption From Upcoming Safety Rules

Several months ago it was widely reported that new U.S. safety regulations regarding side-impact collisions threatened to possibly force Aston Martin to remove its two most profitable models (the DB9 and Vantage) coupes from the marketplace which would've had a devestating effect on the company as a whole. The company and its dealer networks rose in protest;, in an announcement released late last weekend, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) agreed and granted the British nice car maker an exemption.

The issue stems from new crash testing standards that require all vehicles to better withstand the impact of a collision with a stationary object such as a tree or pole. Many current automobiles meet this standard, but the DB9 and Vantage do not, mainly due to their older platforms, made in 2004 and 2005 respectively, and are still used, albeit with some minimal tweaking. If the company were forced to comply with the regulations, Aston Martin would have no choice but to take both models off the market here in the U.S. which would've had a devestating impact on its profits, since the DB9 and especially the Vantage coupe are the most profitable offerings the company currently makes, and the U.S. market is also one of the most profitable areas for the company, especially in New York and Los Angeles.

As a result of the NHTSA exemption, the company can continue to sell the DB9s and Vantages in the United States and is not on the hook for compliance till August of 2016-2017, which gives the bespoke car company the precious time it needs to create replacement models meet the new crash test standards. The new models will also benefit from a new platform the company is currently working on to replace the equally dated VH platform. New engines from its deal with Mercedes-AMG will also be available, which will offer a compelling balance of modern engineering and higher fuel efficency to put them on a par with rivals such as Ferrari, Maserati, and Bentley. This is especially important for the company's current entry level offering, the V8 Vantage. Its 4.7-liter V8 has not been radically changed from its debut in 2005 and is based on an older Jaguar-derived unit that first saw duty in the Xk8 coupe/roadster. That means it is way behind similar offerings fielded by rivals. A new V8 from AMG would not only improve fuel efficency, it would increase the Vantage's overall relevance in the marketplace as an alternative to established sports car rivals such as the Porsche 911, while an updated platform would sharpen its handling and make it more fun to push to the limit.


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