Luxury carmakers see golden age in China - Motoring - Life and Style - The Independent

Luxury carmakers see golden age in China

One of Rolls Royce boss Torsten Muller-Otvos' most memorable auto show moments came last year in Beijing when a man walked through the crowd to the carmaker's stand and set down a suitcase.

"Millions of renminbi," the man said of the suitcase's contents, referring to the Chinese currency.

"Really, that was amazing. He bought a Phantom," Muller-Otvos said.

The Rolls Royce chief executive told AFP no cash buyers had come forward yet at the ongoing Shanghai auto show, but the exhibition has provided further proof for luxury carmakers that their future is in China.

Sales of luxury cars are booming, reflecting the explosion of wealth in the world's most populous country, which has 115 billionaires according to Forbes magazine's 2011 list - second only to the United States.

As soon as Muller-Otvos finished unveiling the new Ghost with an extended wheel base on Tuesday - the first time Rolls Royce has premiered a new model in Asia - the stage was swamped.

Using connections to enter the show on the media preview day, millionaires bought two Rolls Royce Phantoms, which start at nine million yuan ($1.3 million) and four of the new Ghosts, starting at 5.1 million yuan.

The price tags included China's hefty 145 percent tax on imported luxury cars.

"Normally, this does not happen. Not on the first press day," Muller-Otvos said.

Rolls Royce saw its China sales rise 600 percent last year and Muller-Otvos said he expects to see solid double-digit growth in 2011. China passed Britain last year as Rolls' number two market after the United States.

China's luxury car sales are expected to rise to more than 909,900 units this year, up from about 727,200 last year, according to forecasts by IHS Automotive. And that number could to climb to 1.6 million in 2015, it added.

The number of individuals in China worth at least 10 million yuan ($1.5 million), rose by 9.7 percent in the past year to 960,000, according to a report published last week by the Hurun Report, Shanghai-based wealth trackers.

This is a source of political tension in China, where there is rising public dissatisfaction with a widening wealth gap. The government has vowed to pursue more equitable growth in the future.

But carmakers' ambitions are fuelled by Chinese growth rates that continue to be the envy of the world - the world's second-largest economy grew 10.3 percent in 2010 as other major economies limped out of the global downturn.

"There are more cities with millionaires in China now than in Europe," Matthew Bennett, the Asia-Pacific director for British luxury car maker Aston Martin told AFP.

Aston Martin caused a buzz in Shanghai by selling one of its super-luxury One-77s for 47 million yuan. The company will make only 77 of the cars and five were set aside to sell in China.

Prices for the One-77 start at 38 million yuan in China, including taxes, and are higher for add-ons such as solid-gold interior features, Bennett said.

"We don't like to say it's the most expensive car in the show, but we are pretty confident it will be," he added.

Asia is the fastest-growing region for Aston Martin, currently accounting for 10 percent of its sales. China overtook Japan last year to become its top market in the region with more than 100 cars sold.

Bennett said China sales should double in 2011.

"We are very, very excited about the potential in China," he said.

Italy's Lamborghini said it expects China to become its number one market this year as sales accelerate at turbo speeds.

Orders from China are coming in faster than Lamborghini can make cars and customers at the Shanghai auto show were being told they would have to wait until next year for delivery, China Business News reported.

Luxury carmakers believe this could be just the start of a golden age for them in China.

"There's still a lot of growth potential," Rolls Royce's Muller-Otvos said. "There's still a lot of new millionaires to come into the market."

jqf-dd/dma/ft

 

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Senior QA Engineer - Agile, SCRUM

    £35000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior QA Engineer (Agil...

    Marketing Executive - West Midlands - £28,000

    £26000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Executive (SEO, PP...

    Retail Business Analyst

    £40000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our retail client ...

    Senior C++ Developer

    £400 - £450 Per Annum possibly more for the right candidate: Clearwater People...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week