Ferrari scales down production to boost the exclusivity of the brand
Despite pledging to cut production to maintain the Ferrari brand's exclusivity, the manufacturer of fast cars is not slowing down.
The Italian company will invest €2 billion (HK$21 billion) over the next four years and unveil at least one new model a year, according to its chairman.
Luca di Montezemolo was in Hong Kong last week to celebrate Ferrari and local distributor Auto Italia's 30 years in partnership. The festivities included a gala dinner for 2,000 guests and the spectacle of 600 Ferraris at the AsiaWorld-Expo last Saturday.
"We will produce fewer cars than the demand. We want to protect the value of our cars on the market," Montezemolo said.
New models would include limited editions, like this year's LaFerrari. With just 499 units available, it is the first hybrid Ferrari and sold out before it was even unveiled. Twenty of the cars were allotted to Hong Kong customers.
"We have received offers for 200 more cars worldwide, but unfortunately we are not in a position to supply them to our clients because we want to preserve our exclusivity."
Hong Kong was an important market for Ferrari, and its footprint was growing in the region, Montezemolo said.
"We have 55 shops selling merchandise all over the world, and the most successful is in Milan ... The second most successful is in Macau. So it means the history and the presence of Ferrari in this area of the world is very strong and extremely important."
Valuation consultancy Brand Finance rated Ferrari the world's most powerful brand this year, knocking Apple from the top spot. The ranking takes into consideration companies' financial statements but also customer loyalty.
Ferrari has said it will scale back production to below 7,000 cars this year from the 7,318 units it produced last year. This was good news for many enthusiasts, including David Rosa, president of the Ferrari Owners' Club of Hong Kong.
"You see a lot of the 458 Italias, the mid-engine V8; it's become run of the mill. But it's a HK$5 million run of the mill," Rosa says. "We feel, as owners, that there are just too many cars around. And, therefore, the secondary market price has tanked. So that's not been a good story at all. You talk to any 458 or FF owner ... the FFs are really difficult to sell."
By comparison, a 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO reportedly changed hands for a record US$52 million in the United States earlier this month. Only 36 series one 250 GTOs were made. That toppled a record set in August, when a 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 NART Spider sold at a US auction for US$27.5 million.
Rosa says the rarest Ferrari in Hong Kong is a 195 Inter, "which is pretty spectacular to see". Only 24 of the cars were made, in 1950.
Ferrari does not reveal how many cars it sells in the city, but says it delivered 784 cars in Hong Kong, Taiwan and the mainland last year, representing a rise of 4 per cent over 2011. Less than 500 cars were delivered to mainland customers.
Rosa says there are more than 2,000 Ferraris in Hong Kong. Although the club has just around 140 members, many own more than one Ferrari, and some are members of other motoring clubs. He says the club aims to be more visible in the community, and also dispel misconceptions that members "get together and drive around town really fast".
"We've been around for 26 years and we've calmed down enormously in the past five to seven years. It's part of the growth of this community. Of course, the cars are made to go fast, but we take them on tracks and special roads. We don't do that in Hong Kong at all."
In August, the club held its annual Back to School Charity Ride in aid of the Po Leung Kuk social service organisation. Owners drove from The Ritz-Carlton to Disneyland, where underprivileged children were taken for rides in the cars.
More than 40 owners attended, in contemporary and vintage models.
Joey Tong, club member and chief operations officer of upscale children's clothing producer Nicholas & Bears, organised the drive.
Tong donated HK$2,000 to the Po Leung Kuk for each Ferrari participating in the event.