Global recession uncertainties may not be making the super-rich any poorer, but they are making them much more hesitant about buying a superluxury car.
When the outlook is so gloomy, many customers simply feel uncomfortable about taking pleasure in something that is a public sign of wealth and success, Maserati CEO Harald J. Wester said.
Executives at automakers that sell cars that cost more than 100,000 are increasingly concerned about their short-term future. For many of them the worry comes a few months after reporting the best unit sales results in their companies histories.
During past recessions, there were markets that were still booming where a superluxury automaker could export its way out trouble.
Rolls-Royce CEO Tom Purves said that globalization of the economy has made it harder to do this.
All the economies are now joined up, so a hiccup in the US means a hiccup in Russia. Russia is struggling and China growth has slowed substantially, Purves said.
Executives from Bentley, Ferrari, Lamborghini and Maserati told Automotive News Europe that they predict sales decreases this year, but most declined to quantify how big those declines would be.
Only Aston Martin was prepared to provide a figure for this year: about 5,000 sales, down from 6,400 units in 2008 and 7,400 in 2007.
Our revised sales expectation for 2009 reflects the current climate -- although this still, potentially, represents amongst the highest outputs in the companys history, Aston Martin CEO Ulrich Bez said in an e-mail reply to questions.
Tough year looming
With a tough year looming, Ferrari softened its tone for this year when reporting its unit sales and profit results for 2008, which set records.
The economic climate in 2009 remains very uncertain as the crisis takes its toll across the globe. It is hard to say how the situation will develop from here, Ferrari Chairman Luca Cordero di Montezemolo said in a statement.
Maserati CEO Wester admitted the company would not grow again this year, after achieving its best-ever sales results in 2008.
Our customers do not need a Maserati, he said. Such a car is a gift you make to your passion for cars.