Farnborough Airport catches up with Oliver Turner, Regional President at Aston Martin UK and South Africa, ahead of a unique collaboration with Farnborough Airport.
Tell us a little about yourself
This year marks my 20th year working at Aston Martin. My career began as a graduate within the engineering department, based at the Aston Martin factory in Gaydon, Warwickshire. I have worked in many different roles throughout my 20 years with the company, my current role being Regional President for the UK and South Africa which as the home of Aston Martin is a huge privilege. Within my time at Aston Martin, I’ve been fortunate to have worked on many exciting projects and products, the most recent being; the sensational hybrid supercar, the Valhalla and the new DBX707, an exceptional SUV.
How would you describe Aston Martin’s history and vision?
2023 is a very important year historically, as Aston Martin celebrates its 110th anniversary. During those 110 years we have built little more than 110,000 cars, demonstrating the scarcity and exclusivity of our brand. One of the statistics that always stands out for me is that 95% of those cars are still on their journey today, which is great testament to our craftsmanship, but also for the value of our iconic brand.
Our company was originally founded by Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford in a small workshop on Henniker Mews in London. Two men with a shared passion for racing, they wanted to use what they learnt on track to make exquisite British sports cars. More than a century later, so much, yet so little, has changed.
Our vision is to be the world’s most desirable, ultra-luxury British brand and this year is so much more than the 110th anniversary. It is also the landmark year that we will launch our next generation of sports cars, which will include a special model that will celebrate this unique milestone. We are also marking 75 years of the DB bloodline, the 60th anniversary of the iconic DB5 and 20 years since we moved into our headquarters at Gaydon, so there is a great deal for us to celebrate this year.
What is Aston Martin’s presence overseas and which is your favourite destination?
Throughout my 20 years working for Aston Martin, I have worked in different regions around the world. My current role allows me to travel around the UK and South Africa where I spend time visiting the Aston Martin dealer network, there are 22 dealerships across both regions. Prior to this role, my previous job opportunities were overseas. I have been lucky enough to have worked in Asia Pacific, China and the Europe region within my time at Aston Martin. Japanese cuisine is a favourite of mine and this was certainly a bonus when travelling to the region. I enjoy learning and experiencing different cultures and having worked in these regions allowed me to fully experience the diversity of the world. Travel is also a passion of mine, and I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to travel for work to many wonderful countries.
What does the future hold for Aston Martin and does sustainability play a part?
Sustainability plays an integral part and it’s something we take very seriously at Aston Martin. The automotive industry is going through a period of massive change at the moment but we will do what we have done since the beginning, which is to continuously evolve through innovation in order to adapt to the changing times.
Last year we launched our ‘Racing Green’ strategy, which is a comprehensive and integrated sustainability programme - a declaration of intent, if you like to our customers, employees and stakeholders.
We are targeting net-zero emissions from manufacturing by 2030, which we realise is an ambitious target but anything less just wouldn’t have been good enough. We began last year when we signed a commitment to the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), which is a rigorous, third-party validated standard for climate action.
Before launching this plan, we had already made changes to become more sustainable. Between 2020 and 2021 we saw a 44% reduction in emissions intensity within our UK operations and we have been using 100% renewable energy in our UK manufacturing facilities since 2019.
Racing Green includes many new initiatives, one of which is the planned installation of over 14,000 solar panels at our newest manufacturing facility in St Athan, Wales, which will provide up to 20% of the plant’s electricity.
When it comes to our products, Valhalla, our first plug-in hybrid electric vehicle will be ready for customers in 2024. A truly exciting product for us, Valhalla will set a new benchmark for driver engagement, as the most connected driver-centric supercar ever, with hypercar levels of performance. This car will define a new sector, offering the perfect combination of intense performance and pinpoint dynamics, and an unprecedented driving experience.
We are targeting 2025 for the launch our first fully electric vehicle, with other PHEV and BEV models planned in for the years to follow.
None of this is easy. With cars being made up of thousands of parts that are sourced from all over the world, we also have to look to our suppliers and their own sustainability planning. We are moving forward by doing everything we can to achieve our goals and show our suppliers that we can “walk the talk” so they can too.
What are the synergies between Aston Martin and Farnborough Airport?
Aston Martin is the epitome of luxury travel. Our brand is synonymous with luxury destinations, beauty and design. Aston Martin is about the freedom to travel without constraints from the city and scenic routes in our sports cars, to the winter slopes with DBX or onto the track with one of our hypercars. We want our customers to have a unique and unforgettable experience when driving our products. We believe Farnborough Airport represents the same ethos as Aston Martin, to travel without constraints.
Tell us more about the DBX
Put simply, DBX is an SUV with the soul of a sports car. As the first Aston Martin SUV our goal was to bring both the versatility and indulgence expected of a luxury SUV, with sports car levels of dynamic performance. Within a few weeks of the launch, DBX was voted “Best Luxury SUV” at the GQ Car Awards and our order book was full.
DBX707 is the next chapter of this story and it provided an opportunity for us to set new performance standards for an SUV. Our customers expect the best so that is what we give to them. With DBX707, we have created the fastest, the most powerful and the best handling SUV of its class. Each area of the car has been enhanced to boost performance, intensify driving pleasure and amplify its on-road presence.
This car offers our customers world-beating power and pace, matched by exceptional precision, dynamic flair and genuine engagement for an addictive and uniquely impressive driving experience.
DBX707 has an unforgettable character. You would imagine that Formula 1 driver, Fernando Alonso, has driven some incredible cars in his lifetime? The first time he drove DBX707, he admitted that his expectations had been exceeded and called it a “dream car”.
One media review has described the car as a “sabre in a segment of sledgehammers”, which is great testament to the unique formula we’ve created.
Monday 13th February marks the launch of a unique collaboration between Farnborough Airport and Aston Martin. As part of the Airport’s Brand Collaboration Programme, Aston Martin’s high-performance luxury SUV DBX707 will chauffeur guests to and from their aircraft in style, adding to the seamless customer journey from arrival to take off. For a four-week period, a sleek installation celebrating the world’s most powerful luxury SUV will also take centre stage on approach to the airport terminal.