Super-luxury and supercar sales haven’t slowed in China, despite President Xi Jinping’s attack on conspicuous consumption a few years back. Maserati, McLaren and Porsche each just had their best sales year ever in the country, while Ferrari and Aston are also closing in on their peaks.
According to a Bloomberg report, the sales void is being filled by private consumption in a country that added 10 percent more millionaires in 2016 than it had in 2015. Consumer confidence is high, says Johannesburg-based consultancy New World Wealth.
“The outlook is looking pretty good for us here in the China market,” said Reid Bigland, head of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’s Maserati and Alfa Romeo divisions at the Shanghai auto show.
“With us, we just haven’t felt it,” he said, referring to the impact of the crackdown on consumption.
Even a 10 percent “super-luxury” tax announced in December, affecting cars costing more than $189,000 (1.3 million yuan), hasn’t reduced the desire. Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Steve Man says it could point to an improvement in the global luxury market. Wolfgang Durheimer, Bentley CEO, says he expects to set a new sales record with the Bentayga SUV in China in 2017.
Maserati and Alfa Romeo are adding dealers, and McLaren doubled sales in the country in 2016. Aston Martin says it will hit its target of selling 270 cars in 2017, up from 170 in 2016.
It’s not just the uber-luxury cars that are moving: BMW and Audi sales are both up; Acura is aiming at 30,000 sales, and Hyundai is bringing Genesis over, too. Lincoln chief Kumar Galhotra went as far as saying that China is going to be the biggest luxury market within a year or two.
Part of Xi’s anti-conspicuous-consumption drive was also meant to curb corruption and end graft. Some of those luxury-car sales were gifts, trying to curry favor from politicians. More than 400,000 government officials were punished in 2016 for corruption, 23 percent more than 2015.