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Ital Auto to be new importer for Maserati
After more than three years of speculation, Maserati will drive out of Hong Seh Motors' forecourt and park itself in the Ital Auto showroom.
The rumours started in early 2014, and The Business Times first reported on them in March 2014.
However, both the regional office Maserati Asia Pacific and the authorised Singapore distributor Hong Seh Motors have consistently denied them.
But on Wednesday, Ital Auto managing director Teo Hock Seng confirmed that his company will officially assume the importership of the Italian luxury marque on May 18.
"On Nov 18 last year at a tripartite meeting, Hong Seh amicably resigned as the importer and Maserati asked Ital Auto to take over in six months' time,'' said Mr Teo, explaining that the half-year period was given "to clear stocks''.
He added: "We are not taking any stock. We will have a fresh start.''
Ital Auto also distributes Ferrari. The company is owned by Komoco Motors, which also holds the Hyundai, Chrysler Jeep and Harley Davidson franchises.
Hong Seh has been the Maserati distributor in Singapore since 1999. It was also the Ferrari dealer from 1982 until Ital Auto took over the reins of the Italian supercar with the prancing horse badge in 2009.
According to Hong Seh executive director Edward Tan, he is exiting the business as he sees "diminishing returns for the high-end automobile segment''.
"We are having a cheap sale for Maserati now, with the warranty backed by Maserati,'' he said, before adding with a laugh: "But the price will be above cost. If you want it cheaper than cost, you have to ask the Singapore government to lower the tax.''
Going forward, he will focus on another of his passions - yachts.
Hong Seh represents the Ferretti Group, whose core brands for luxury pleasure craft are Ferretti, Riva and Pershing.
Mr Tan, whose first foray into the yacht business was a decade ago, also specialises in super yacht and custom lines. "The Ferretti Group is doing well with us and we will support them in the region,'' he said.
Hong Seh is also planning to target the security and defence sector with Ferretti's navy and police coast guard military and paramilitary vessels.
As for Maserati, its new showroom will be at 30 Leng Kee Road, next to Ferrari. The workshop for the brand with the trident badge will be on the fourth floor.
Ital Auto has completed the necessary renovations and appointed senior staff like the general manager, and marketing and sales heads. It is in the process of hiring sales and technical staff.
Mr Teo remarked that there is "no hidden agenda'', a reference to a letter which Hong Seh is understood to have sent to its customers.
He said: "There is nothing underhand about the transfer. There is an agreement between Maserati and Hong Seh and I was a witness at that meeting to see what is the best way to resolve the exit and how we will come in.''