Aston Martin yesterday confirmed rumors that it’s Cygnet minicar concept will indeed go into production and be sold to select customers around the world by 2012. The Cygnet will be based around the Toyota iQ, retaining its basic build and engine but gussying up interior and exterior styling to reflect Aston Martin’s luxury brand positioning.
The concept Cygnet was first revealed last December, just six months after the British carmaker selected Toyota to help it bring down the average emissions of its fleet. What seems like a frantic rush to release something green was triggered by rising fuel economy and emissions standards in Europe, which will force many of the world’s most notoriously diesel-guzzling luxury nameplates to release hybrid and electric vehicles in the coming years.
Aston Martin, for its part, has decided against tacking on a hybrid powertrain to one of its existing models or developing plug-in supercars, instead choosing to offer a restyled city car in the near term and later offering an electrified version of that car that will also depend on existing Toyota technology. The electric Cygnet is slated for a 2013 release.
So what was so attractive about small cars for Aston? The company says its market research indicates that 30 percent of its customers also own a small city car like a Mini or Smart ForTwo. That would seem to suggest that many wealthy customers often look to more practical driving solutions even though the price of fuel may be no object to them—and that Aston has a chance to use its brand equity to win customers who might consider a $24,000 Mini “slumming it.”
The Cygnet is expected to sell for about $32,000 and will at least initially be available only to Aston’s existing customers.