Feds Spare Aston Martin by Granting Temporary Safety Exemption

Nov 03, 2014 02:00 PM EST | Jordan Ecarma

Aston Martin, the luxury British automaker known for providing James Bond's famous rides, has been granted a temporary reprieve from complying with new federal safety regulations that would have nearly shut down operations in the U.S.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has granted an exemption to the carmaker that allows it to keep selling models that don't yet fulfill NHTSA side air bag requirements, Reuters reported.

Aston Martin requested the exemption for DB9 and Vantage models produced after Aug. 31; both titles are top sellers for the British carmaker, which reported pre-tax losses of roughly $40.6 million last year and can't exactly afford to take another hit.

The DB9 model starts at $186,525, while the Vantage is priced at $119,525. Coupe versions of the cars are now exempt from the new side air bag standards until the end of August 2016 for the DB9 grand tourer and August 2017 for the Vantage sports car. 

The NHTSA is able to provide exemptions for select manufacturers that sell fewer than 5,000 vehicles each year; according to Aston Martin, the carmaker sold 4,200 vehicles worldwide in 2013.The agency has been phasing in new safety standards during the past four years. 

"The basis for the grant is that compliance would cause substantial economic hardship to a low volume manufacturer that has tried in good faith to comply with the standard," the NHTSA said in a statement quoted by Reuters.

For its part, Aston must place labels on each vehicle exempted from the side-impact crash regulations to let consumers know it doesn't comply, Automobile Magazine reported.

If the exemption had not been granted, the automaker would have seen losses of up to 670 vehicles over three years, according to Reuters.

CEO Andy Palmer, who was recently appointed to lead the carmaker in a new direction, has been working to turn around Aston Martin's losses and revive the faltering luxury brand.

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