It’s been a bumpy ride for Aston Martin since its launch more than a century ago – but its latest cars may yet put it in pole position, says Nat Barnes.

The name’s Palmer. Andy Palmer. You can be forgiven if his name isn’t familiar, but there’s every chance he will go down in automotive history as the man who saved Aston Martin.

As the British sports car company introduces its long-awaited new DB11 – the successor to James Bond’s celluloid-starring DB10 in Spectre – Aston Martin is entering a crucial four-year period that will include new vehicles, a new factory and a deal with the Red Bull Formula One team to produce a £2.5 million hypercar. It’s nothing if not ambitious.

For all of its drive, Aston has had its fair share of struggle. Despite the desirability and Bond-brand cool that emanates from Aston Martin, it has gone bust an incredible seven times in its 103-year history, and has been in the red for the past five years. It doesn’t expect to be profitable until at least 2018-19, and few inside or outside the company think that the next few years will be anything other than tough.

“Andy Palmer [Aston’s chief executive] has been upfront about the state of the company and it has never been consistently profitable,” explains Nick Gibbs, UK correspondent for Automotive News Europe. “Aston is on the cusp of doing something good but history has shown that it’s difficult to make money when selling low-volume cars.”

When the DB11 will put a £154,900-sized hole in your bank balance and already boasts a 2,000-plus order book, you might ask: how is it lacking in funds? Even the planned 150 £2.5 million Red Bull RB001 hypercars have already sold out, and Palmer reckons that Aston could have found customers for at least four times that number.

The problem is that Aston’s 3,615 sales last year were just half of what it sold in 2007. There’s also the lack of an automotive parent. While Daimler has a 5 per cent stake, most of Aston’s premium rivals – Porsche, Maserati, Ferrari, Bentley and Lamborghini – have larger parent firms to help smooth the road to profitability. There’s the possibility of Chinese ownership, as Volvo has thrived as part of Geely, but the longer any potential suitor leaves it, the bigger the price tag is likely to be.

Palmer, chief executive since 2014, is already putting his past experience with Nissan to good use, matching big-numbers manufacturing know-how to Aston Martin’s more traditional hand-built craftsmanship.

The latter is very much in evidence in the new DB11, which combines the latest technology – such as haptic sensory controls similar to a computer’s mouse touch pad, and TFT high-resolution display screens – with hand-stitched leather and a bonnet badge manufactured by a jewellery specialist in Birmingham.

The first 1,000 cars will be checked and signed off by Palmer himself, with a personal letter including his direct email address, should the customer encounter any problems.

Still, for all those DB11 orders, the real make-or-break models for Aston’s future will be the next V8 Vantage, due next year and powered by a Mercedes-sourced engine, and the DBX crossover being built at a new factory in St Athan, South Wales. With the first DBX deliveries taking place in 2019, it will ride the wave of popularity for large luxury SUVs such as the Porsche Cayenne and Bentley Bentayga. By then, Rolls-Royce and Lamborghini will also have entered the market with their own 4x4s.

At the same time, Aston is expanding its merchandising and licensing arm, introducing customers to one-off experiences such as joining the DB11 press launch, held in Tuscany in mid-July, and events such as “Dine on the Line”, where they can eat a Michelin-chef prepared lunch right alongside the production line.

As he’s shown, Palmer is open to introducing new thinking to help turn Aston’s fortunes around. And if it works, it will be an escape plan worthy of 007 himself.