SHANGHAI (Bloomberg) -- McLaren Automotive said it has yet to see signs of a recovery in demand in China since the ruling Communist Party began cracking down on lavish spending late last year.
"The visibility that used to be an asset -- we used to be OK just a few years ago -- now it's not really a plus," Mirko Bordiga, regional director of the UK supercar maker, said in an interview on Thursday in Guangzhou, southern China.
"There are many issues that are in the market that doesn't really let us hope that the market is growing that much." The comments signal that the slowdown in Chinese demand for luxury, sapping sales of everything from Vacheron Constantin watches to Remy Martin cognac, will stretch into 2014. Lamborghini, Ferrari and Rolls-Royce have all voiced concerns since 2012 that China is no longer the driver of growth it was three years ago when it was pulling the world out of recession.
Analysts say luxury cars, which have come to symbolize corruption in China, are especially vulnerable to the government crackdown.
McLaren, which forecasts its global sales to be little changed next year at about 1,400 vehicles, isn't prepared to miss out on opportunities to promote its products to China's rich. Like Bentley, McLaren chose to display its vehicles at this week's Guangzhou auto show, at the expense of the bigger Tokyo motor show.
McLaren plans to triple the number of showrooms in the country to 12 in 2014, and will bank on the Chinese love for new brands and the racing team's profile in Formula One to boost sales, Bordiga said.
"Even though there's the slowdown, the market will still be growing and you have to be here," said Andreas Graef, a Shanghai-based consultant at A.T. Kearney, which advises automakers in the world's second-biggest economy. "You cannot miss that show, because every brand needs to raise their brand awareness in China."
Porsche is displaying its most expensive model -- the 918 Spyder with a 13.4 million yuan ($2.2 million) price tag -- in Guangzhou. Sales next year will be boosted by the new Macan SUV that debuted at the Los Angeles auto show this week, said Deesch Papke, Porsche's China head. The automaker also introduced the 911 Turbo S at the show.
"We have the expectation of exceeding our volumes of last year and next year is going to be even better for us," Papke said.