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Luxury car sales in overdrive

2013-02-14 09:53

By Li Fangfang (China Daily)

Luxury car sales in overdrive

People take pictures of the EXP 9 F Bentley SUV concept car displayed at Auto China 2012 in Beijing on April 23. [Jason Lee / Reuters]


During 2012, its two dealerships in Beijing and Shanghai were listed among the top three worldwide in terms of sales for the second year running.

Although the US still remained its biggest market, the sales gap between it and China was very close, almost on a par, said Muller-Otvos.

"Sales in the Chinese mainland are now only around 40 to 50 units behind those in the US. And almost one out of every four cars was sold to China in 2012.

"We are cautiously optimistic about our business in China in 2013, and I would not be surprised to see China as our No 1 market this year," he added.

Italian brand Lamborghini delivered 320 cars to Chinese customers in 2012.

"Though our sales growth in China in 2012 was a little quiet from the boom in past years, we see huge potential," said Christian Mastro, general manager of the Italian "Raging Bull" brand in the Asia-Pacific.

After enjoying a 150 percent surge in year-on-year sales in 2010, and a 70 percent rise in growth in 2011, Mastro insists the future of Lamborghini in China is "bright", despite a sluggish economy and many uncertainties in the industry,

"The demand for sports cars will continue to increase, so that we expect the sector to grow by 20 to 30 percent annually over the next five to 10 years," he added.

China's premium car segment presented an outrageous overdrive in the past decade. Surging demand made analysts expect China to catch up with the US as the top market for super luxury vehicles.

Statistics from research firm IHS Automotive show that sales of luxury vehicles in China surged from 45,000 units in 2001 to 736,000 units in 2012, representing an astonishing 1,550 percent growth.

During the past two years, sales of luxury vehicles saw more than 50 percent year-on-year growth, even though China's overall automobile sales growth slowed to single digits.

The phenomenal growth brought nearly all the top auto brands to China. IHS Automotive expects the market to keep on growing just as fast in the next three years, reaching annual sales of 1.7 million in 2015.

"China's fantastic economic growth seems to assure the future of ultra luxury cars," said Muller-Otvo.

"It's certainly a positive market compared with Western mature markets."

Zhong Shi, an independent auto analysts based in Beijing, said the next few years for luxury brands are no doubt rosy. Chinese consumers of luxury and super-luxury models are keen to impress.