Real business story

It's The Small Things podcast: Simon Saunders, owner and director, Ariel Motor Company

You won’t find busy production lines at Ariel Motor Company – each vehicle is made from start to finish by the same person. Join us as we visit Ariel’s factory and learn more about how this artisanal approach has won over both staff and customers.

Our tenth episode of It’s The Small Things takes a closer look at car manufacturer Ariel Motor Company. From its small Somerset site and with a team of just 35, Ariel’s cars regularly take on – and beat – global brands like Ferrari and Lamborghini.

Ariel first shot to fame when its flagship car, the Atom, appeared on Top Gear and set a test track record that was unbeaten for two years.

The waiting list for an Ariel car or motorcycle currently stands at two years, but its customers are more than happy to wait.

With a huge amount of success under its belt, you’d be tempted to think that Ariel would rest on its laurels. But founder Simon Saunders continually has his eye on the future and, as you’ll find out, spends much of his time on R&D.

Listen and watch to find out what a typical day looks like for Simon and how he makes informed changes. You’ll also hear from one of Ariel’s employees about what it’s like to build a car from scratch.

The full podcast episode is available on all major platforms and immediately below. Click through to find it on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Acast, Spotify and SoundCloud and subscribe to make sure you don't miss out on new episodes.

Go behind the scenes

“There are never two cars the same. That doesn’t lend itself to a production line very easily: the number of cars we build doesn’t work on a production line and the space requirements are difficult. But I think the most important thing for us is that each car is built by one person, they’re responsible for it, it’s their car, right up until the time customers take it.”

Simon Saunders – Ariel Motor Company

Making changes

“We make changes in the business and try to involve everyone here. Everyone’s allowed into R&D to see what’s going on, so they can see future projects and have an opinion on them which is really valuable. At the moment, we’re designing a new factory. It's really important that they’re involved in that because they could have a very strong opinion about their own workplace. We try to be as inclusive as we possibly can with any decisions.”

Simon Saunders – Ariel Motor Company

Employee insight is an essential part of business planning

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Case Study.

David and Goliath: Ariel Motor Company has succeeded by staying small

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Top takeaways

Showing customers how products are made and making them feel like part of the journey helps to build a strong relationship with your brand.

Create inclusive processes where employees feel comfortable sharing feedback.

Delegating day-to-day tasks to others gives you more time to focus on strategy and think about new opportunities.