Aston Martin Lagonda is suing Swiss car dealer Nebula Project and its board members, accusing it of failing to pay customer deposits it had accepted for orders of its £2.5m Valkyrie sports car.
The luxury carmarker, best known for making James Bond’s vehicles, said it was filing criminal and civil proceedings in Switzerland, where it is asking the prosecutor to investigate.
In a statement, Aston Martin said it expected to take a £15m hit to its 2021 pre-tax profits as a result of the incident, but added that the financial impact of the “extraordinary event” would be positive over time.
The legal proceedings relate to a unique agreement which the previous management of Aston Martin signed with Nebula Project in 2016, designed to help with financing the development of its Valkyrie “hypercar” and other engine programmes.
Under the agreement, Nebula Project was due to receive royalty payments for sales of the Valkyrie which, according to Aston Martin, “could have been significant over time”.
Aston Martin said it hadn’t received from Nebula Project all of the funds deposited by its customers, and has terminated its commercial agreement with the Swiss company, meaning it is no longer liable for any royalty payments.
The directors of Nebula described Aston Martin’s termination of the contract as “illegitimate and unjustified” and said they were “prepared to pursue the necessary steps to preserve our rights”, in a response to the legal proceedings reported by the Financial Times.
Nebula highlighted that they had worked with the carmaker for 11 years and stated that “contracts have to be honoured. The directors said they were prepared to “keep our commitments if Aston Martin keeps their obligations”.
Aston Martin said it had also terminated its commercial agreement with Nebula Project, as well as with AF Cars, a company which operates the Aston Martin dealership in St Gallen in Switzerland, and which is managed by the same board members as Nebula Project.
The London-listed carmaker said it was bringing legal proceedings with the support of a group of its customers. The company would not disclose how many customers had paid their deposits to Nebula Project, but said it was a small number.
The luxury carmaker, which was saved from collapse in early 2020 in a £500m rescue deal by a consortium led by the Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll, said it had no other agreements like the one with Nebula Project.
The firm added: “Going forward the company will ensure that all deposits for special vehicles are received directly by Aston Martin, not through a third party.”
The carmaker still intends to begin deliveries of its £2.5m Valkyrie hypercar in the second half of the year, and only plans to produce 150 Valkyrie road cars.