Demand for hot wheels from China and the U.S. have some luxury car manufacturers exceeding expectations in a definite shift from the record lows of 2009.
In India, though the overall car industry is still showing signs of decline, the exception is luxury models, which are expected to continue their current growth of 15 per cent year over year.
While the overall demand for luxury vehicles slipped slightly in 2013, mainly due to the lack of interest in cash-strapped Europe, several manufacturers are increasing sales to Asia at a staggering rate.
Earlier this month, Daimler AG, the parent company of Mercedes, reported sales of 24,199 cars in China in January, an increase of 44 per cent from the same period last year. Mercedes sales rose 21 per cent in the United States last year, with 312,500 cars leaving dealerships, and up 32 per cent in India, despite import tariffs.
Chinese sales for Porsche reached almost 37,500 units last year, an increase of 19.9 per cent over 2012’s retail numbers, with December demand soaring 71 per cent from the previous year and establishing China as the auto maker’s largest market. In the United States, sales numbers for Porsche were record breaking, with 42,300 units sold last year, up 21 per cent from 2012.
Luxury cars – usually defined as models starting at more than $30,000 (U.S.) – combine the element of practicality with amusement, which is what makes them a popular luxury item. Supercars and luxury automobiles are functional, but “they offer that bit of status and that little extra bit of luxury,” explains Alexandra Straub, luxury car and motorcycle journalist and spokesperson for the Vancouver Luxury and Supercar Weekend.
“A lot of it is emotional because a car for a lot of people is just point A to point B, but for a lot of others, they want to have a connection with it,” she says. “They’re going to be spending so much of their life in this vehicle that they want to be able to bond with it, they want to know the ins and outs of it.”
People who can afford to get behind the wheel of a luxury car are offered the most advanced safety options, the latest in technology and a laundry list of custom choices.
“For example, Bentley is a luxury brand, their vehicles are not cheap, but you can custom build them, you can go to the factory and meet the crew and pick out exactly the leather and the colour that you want for your car.”