China: World’s driving force for luxury cars

China is the global driving force for premium luxury cars as consumer enthusiasm fuels sales, industry experts said.

On Tuesday, the first day of the Shanghai auto show, luxury carmakers encountered revved-up interest as their vehicles were snapped up.

British car manufacturer Aston Martin said that all of its five One-77 cars for the China market were ordered before the show opened.

At a price tag of 47 million yuan ($7.19 million), the One-77 model, a limited edition with just 77 cars on offer around the world, is the most expensive car at the show, now in its 14th year.

Wang Jian, personal liaison manager of sales marketing with Daimler’s Maybach brand, told China Daily that the two exhibited Maybach “Shanghai 2011” Special Edition cars, designed to commemorate the show, were also ordered on the first day. The price of the Maybach 62 S “Shanghai 2011″ Special Edition, more expensive than the other version, is 13.88 million yuan.

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“Chinese consumers love to show off their wealth by having unique luxury products or getting them one step ahead of the others,” said Zhong Shi, an auto analyst based in Beijing.

The prosperity driving China’s luxury car market is set to continue, he said.

“China is one of the top markets for premium car brands, on the same level as the United States,” Zhong said.

“More importantly, China has greater potential. It will maintain double-digit year-on-year growth for a long time.”

Zhong believes that the luxury car market is “sustainable”.

“It won’t be impacted by industry adjustments and market changes if the economy keeps up its growth pattern.

“There are always new riches” and emerging wealth from all social backgrounds, he said.

According to the Hurun Wealth Report 2011 released earlier this month, China is close to having 1 million millionaires, with personal wealth of 10 million yuan or more.

The figure was up 9.7 percent over last year, the report said.

Stephan Winkelmann, president and chief executive officer of Italian super sports carmaker Lamborghini, told China Daily that China will be Lamborghini’s biggest market this year, after its sales nearly tripled year-on-year in 2010.

“Sales easily beat our expectations. Just two years ago we only sold 72 cars in China, our 10th biggest market at the time,” Winkelmann said.

“We see huge potential for the development of China’s ultra-luxury car sector, as more and more younger people desire an individual and uncompromising lifestyle,” he added.

At the 2010 Beijing auto show, the company launched a limited edition of the Murcielago LP 670-4 SuperVeloce, specifically tailored for the Chinese market. The 10 cars, with prices starting at 8 million yuan, sold out within 10 days of their debut.

It launched another limited edition of Gallardo LP 550-2 Tricolore on Tuesday night, to attract more Chinese super sports car fans.

Another Italian sports car brand, Ferrari, expects China to overtake other countries and become its second-biggest market from its current fifth position, and sees huge potential.

In 2010, Ferrari delivered around 300 of its cars to consumers on the Chinese mainland, a record number for the company and an increase of nearly 50 percent compared with 2009.

 Li Fangfang and Gao Changxin (China Daily)

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