Ferrari surges in Japan amid economic revival

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 06 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 06 April, 2013, 4:36am

Japan is becoming Ferrari's next growth market.

Registrations of Fiat's ultra-luxury brand rose 40 per cent to 144 vehicles in Japan last quarter, according to the Japan Automobile Importers Association. That is more than twice the growth in the US market, while demand is slumping in China, at home, and across Europe.

The surge in demand for luxury cars adds to signs that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Bank of Japan governor Haruhiko Kuroda are succeeding in reviving spending. Stock prices are climbing back to levels before the September 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers, and households have become more confident about the economic outlook.

"The growth is very promising, and I think we can expect these super-luxury brands to introduce more models that they hadn't introduced to Japan before and to strengthen their dealership networks," said Yoshiaki Kawano, a car analyst at industry researcher IHS Automotive. "The optimism for an economic recovery is spreading."

Japan's Nikkei-225 Index touched 13,100 points yesterday morning, after Kuroda announced unprecedented stimulus in his first policy meeting, before closing 1.58 per cent up at 12,833.64 points. The yen fell to its weakest since August 2009, to 97.19 to the US dollar, before trading at 97.12 yen in Tokyo.

To sustain growth, Ferrari opened a new after-service facility in Japan this month, said Herbert Appleroth, head of the company's operations in the country. "We are ever more committed to offer a quality of service to cater to the needs of our growing number of Japanese clients in every step of ownership," he said.

For the fiscal year ended March, Ferrari registrations in Japan increased 46 per cent to a 12-year high of 558, according to the import group. The company is not alone in seeing a boom, as Volkswagen's Lamborghini sold 199 vehicles, the most in at least 14 years, and sales of imported cars worth more than 10 million yen (HK$820,000) have risen for two years.

Behind Japan's revival is Abe's campaign to weaken the yen, which has fallen about 19 per cent in the past six months. His efforts are being complemented by his handpicked Bank of Japan governor, Kuroda, who earlier this week announced doubling of monthly bond purchases to reverse 15 years of deflation.