Ferraris 'art, not luxury', China anti-luxury drive needn't apply: carmaker

Mainland campaign against displays of wealth should not apply to the vehicles, says carmaker

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 19 October, 2013, 3:12am
UPDATED : Saturday, 19 October, 2013, 3:12am

The chairman of Ferrari says the campaign of President Xi Jinping to curb displays of wealth by the country's elite should not apply to purchases of the company's cars.

"A Ferrari is not a luxury product. To buy Ferrari is to obtain a piece of art, a piece of technology," the chairman of the Italian carmaker, Luca Montezemolo, told the South China Morning Post yesterday.

In its latest financial results, the company reported a significant slowdown on the mainland and in Hong Kong and Taiwan in the first six months of the year, selling under 350 cars - 50 fewer than last year.

Despite Ferrari's decision to cut production to below 7,000 units worldwide this year in a bid to protect the value of the brand, it saw a slight increase in sales in most of its key markets, the United States and Europe.

A company spokeswoman said it was too early to predict whether the carmaker would meet its goal of selling nearly 800 units on the mainland and in Hong Kong and Taiwan this year.

Montezemolo said his company's strategy on the mainland was to expand its coverage by opening more dealerships. "Our brand awareness is increasing in China. The number of cars available for sale is fewer than demand," he said.

Andrew Thomson, head of automotive in Asia-Pacific and China at KPMG, said Xi's anti-corruption drive would continue to hurt sales of "super luxury" vehicles. "The climate is not changing much. The government's commitment to its anti-corruption agenda is fairly serious and ongoing," he said. "Recent sales figures suggest that demand from Chinese consumers may be shifting downward from 'super luxury' vehicles to luxury vehicles, although a highly competitive environment remains."

Audi, the top-selling luxury-car brand in China, saw sales surge 28 per cent month on month in September on the popularity of its Q3 and Q5 sport utility vehicles, which cost upwards of US$60,000. Ferrari streetcars cost upwards of US$400,000.

Montezemolo said he was in Hong Kong to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Italian firm's agreement with local distributor Auto Italia and "reinforce" the brand's ongoing commitment to Hong Kong, the mainland and Taiwan.