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Mobil­i­ty with Atti­tude (MWA) — Aston Mar­tin lead design­er does­n’t fear the future

Marek Reich­man sees sports cars as tech­nol­o­gy’s cut­ting edge

Image Cred­it: Drew Phillips
Image Cred­it: Drew Phillips
Image Cred­it: Drew Phillips
Image Cred­it: Drew Phillips
Image Cred­it: Drew Phillips
Image Cred­it: Drew Phillips
Image Cred­it: Drew Phillips
Image Cred­it: Drew Phillips
Image Cred­it: Drew Phillips
Image Cred­it: Drew Phillips
Image Cred­it: Drew Phillips
Image Cred­it: Drew Phillips
Image Cred­it: Drew Phillips
Image Cred­it: Drew Phillips

Marek Reich­man is the chief cre­ative offi­cer of Aston Mar­tin, so he over­sees the cre­ation of some of the world’s most desir­able vehi­cles. This includes not only the pro­duc­tion cars from the ven­er­a­ble British brand, like the DB11 coupe and con­vert­ible, or the all-new Van­tage, but also “Spe­cials.” These lim­it­ed-edi­tion, extreme­ly expen­sive, out­ra­geous and drool-wor­thy cus­tom vehi­cles are devel­oped by Aston’s spe­cial advanced engi­neer­ing skunkworks, like the Vul­can and Valkyrie. And, now, with the revival and reimag­in­ing of Lagon­da as an elec­tric and autonomous ultra-lux­u­ry sub-brand, he’s also respon­si­ble for cre­at­ing a full line of vehi­cles to fill out its offer­ings — a lim­ou­sine, a coupe and an SUV.

Spectre Screening - Mayfair Curzon

Speak­ing at the glob­al launch of the brand’s new Van­tage — long its best-sell­ing vehi­cleand the entry-lev­el gate­way into the Aston uni­verse — Reich­man is cau­tious­ly opti­mistic about the future of the tra­di­tion­alsports car. In part, because he believes that some humans will always crave speed and feel. “Wash­ing clothes became auto­mat­ed, build­ing refrig­er­a­tors became auto­mat­ed. Every­thing becomes auto­mat­ed, because we see it as advanced,” Reich­man says. “But there will always be a seg­ment of the pop­u­la­tion that wants that expe­ri­ence. That engage­ment.”

Of course, as tech­nol­o­gy advances toward the alleged inevitabil­i­ty of our elec­tric and autonomous future, and rules regard­ing who can own or dri­ve what kind of car lead or fol­low, this seg­ment may become increas­ing­ly restrict­ed. Reich­man lives in Oxford, Eng­land, which will become the first city in Europe to com­plete­ly ban car­bon-emit­ting vehi­cles in the start of the next decade, so he is well aware of these impend­ing changes. “At the high per­for­mance end it might become the province of the rich, who will need pri­vate spaces to use these vehi­cles,” he says. “But what will hap­pen with the Mor­gans or theLotus­es of the world — the more acces­si­ble brands? There may still be a place for them.”

Image Cred­it: Drew Phillips
Image Cred­it: Drew Phillips
Image Cred­it: Drew Phillips
Image Cred­it: Drew Phillips
Image Cred­it: Drew Phillips
Image Cred­it: Drew Phillips
Image Cred­it: Drew Phillips
Image Cred­it: Drew Phillips
Image Cred­it: Drew Phillips
Image Cred­it: Drew Phillips
Image Cred­it: Drew Phillips
Image Cred­it: Drew Phillips
Image Cred­it: Drew Phillips
Image Cred­it: Drew Phillips
Image Cred­it: Drew Phillips
Image Cred­it: Drew Phillips
Image Cred­it: Drew Phillips

This sense of pos­si­bil­i­ty stems from Reich­man’s belief that the next gen­er­a­tion can hold simul­ta­ne­ous­ly diver­gent ideas. “I think there is always going to be a space for the per­son­al need and desire for per­for­mance dri­ving. I see it even in kids today,” he says. “They believe in the world of elec­tri­fi­ca­tion. That that is their inevitable future. But they still enjoy see­ing an Aston Mar­tin or a Fer­rari, or a Lotus — if they ever see a Lotus …”

Reich­man sees a bridg­ing of this gap between our con­ven­tion­al views of the tra­di­tion­al and the futur­is­tic in the cur­rent Aston prod­uct line. “The sports car remains a tech­no­log­i­cal flag­ship. You could see this on our stand this year in Gene­va. We had Valkyrie as well as Lagon­da on the stand. These two cars rep­re­sent the ulti­mate in tech­nol­o­gy advanc­ing the nat­u­ral­ly aspi­rat­ed inter­nal com­bus­tion, and the ulti­mate in tech­nol­o­gy advanc­ing elec­tri­fi­ca­tion and auton­o­my,” he says.

He sees these two devel­op­ments work­ing hand in hand, across brand and sub-brand. “You don’t have to be a sci­en­tist to know that Lagon­da can inspire and influ­ence Aston Mar­tin. The same fac­to­ry where that car will be built will also be where we make the new DBX crossover.”

More­over, Reich­man hopes to see these two streams align in the design and exe­cu­tion of the Aston prod­uct port­fo­lio, espe­cial­ly with­in the cat­e­go­ry of “tra­di­tion­al” per­for­mance vehi­cles. “Sports cars haven’t yet tak­en advan­tage of the ben­e­fits of elec­tri­fi­ca­tion. With bat­ter­ies I’m sur­prised that there isn’t dif­fer­ent forms. I think peo­ple haven’t been brave enough,” Reich­man says.

Would Tes­la have been as suc­cess­ful if they had made an unearth­ly first prod­uct? I don’t think so. Because in that cat­e­go­ry peo­ple still expect some­thing a bit famil­iar. But I think that Valkyrie will help. It’s a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent form. Some­thing exper­i­men­tal, and unnat­ur­al. Once design­ers start dic­tat­ing form around bat­ter­ies, imag­ine the forms that they will take. I’m very excit­ed.”

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