(Bloomberg) -- Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings Plc is nudging back the launch of its first battery-electric model by a year, citing a lack of prospective customers.

The British carmaker made the announcement in the course of reporting better-than-expected earnings and disclosing that it’s in advanced talks to refinance debt in the first half of this year.

With demand for fully electric cars wobbling, Aston Martin is opting to make a line of plug-in hybrids that will bridge the transition to battery-only powertrains, Executive Chairman Lawrence Stroll said Wednesday. The company brokered a key partnership last year to source EV components from Lucid Group Inc.

“The only thing that isn’t in place is consumer demand,” Stroll said on a call with reporters.

Stroll is searching for a fourth chief executive in as many years to replace 77-year-old Amedeo Felisa, the former Ferrari CEO pressed into duty after his predecessor’s early exit. Aston Martin’s debt woes predate the Canadian billionaire’s rescue of the company four years ago. He’s brought in new shareholders since then, including Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co.

Aston Martin ended last year with net debt of £814 million ($1 billion), the company said in its quarterly earnings statement. It’s working to lower leverage this year and next year.

The carmaker left its guidance for this year unchanged, saying it continues to target £2 billion in revenue and a 40% gross margin, with free cash flow turning positive in the second half of the year. Cash flow in the last quarter was affected by a $33 million payment to Lucid.

What Bloomberg Intelligence Says

Aston Martin’s strong 4Q gross margin of 45%, a positive operating result, with a near 30% Ebitda margin, is overshadowed by free cash remaining £63 million negative, which could extend until 2H and presents a drag on sentiment. Moreover, though Aston says its well advanced in the process of refinancing £1 billion of high coupon debt in 1H, this will remain an overhang on the stock until complete.

— Michael Dean, BI automotive analyst

Click here to read the report.

Stroll said Aston Martin ramped up output of the new DB12 sports car slower than expected in part because of supply delays and issues with the redeveloped infotainment system. The company is now at full production of DB12s and is sold out through the end of the third quarter. By the end of March, the company expects to have full order books for the model through the rest of the year.

Bolstered by its top-end vehicle — the $3 million Valkyrie hypercar — Aston Martin saw its overall average sale price increase 15% last year, Chief Financial Officer Doug Lafferty said.

Aston Martin’s adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization rose 58% to £174.8 million in the fourth quarter. For the year, the company reported an operating loss of £111 million.

The results come ahead of the start of the new Formula One season, with Aston Martin targeting its first race victory under Stroll. He controls the F1 team separately from the listed car company and sold a minority stake in the team to US private equity firm Arctos Partners LP in November.

Aston Martin said it expects to invest £350 million in new product development this year.

(Updates to lead with carmaker delaying its first EV.)

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