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Gloomier economy? Not for high-end car dealers
THE super sports car segment here may be facing challenging times but that has not deterred dealers from investing millions in new showrooms.
Lamborghini opened a new showroom in Suntec City this month, displaying an Aventador and a Huracan, in addition to Lamborghini merchandise.
The so-called satellite showroom complements its sprawling Teban Gardens Crescent facility in Jurong. "After 14 years, we decided to bring the Lamborghini experience nearer to town when we got this fantastic space at Suntec," said Melvin Goh, CEO of Lamborghini distributor Euro- Sports Global.
Over at the prime motor belt on Leng Kee Road, there are also new showrooms for Aston Martin and McLaren, after these two brands moved over to Wearnes Automotive and Eurokars Group respectively.
Wearnes' official showroom opening four weeks ago was attended by the multi-franchise distributor's VIP customers, while Eurokars' grand opening takes place in a week's time.
Wearnes and Eurokars are already associated with super high-end marques like Bugatti, Bentley and Rolls-Royce in Singapore. Wearnes officially assumed the Aston Martin franchise on Aug 31 from the previous dealer, Aston Martin Singapore, which had represented the iconic British make since 1994 but decided to relinquish it voluntarily.
Eurokars, on the other hand, secured McLaren from Wearnes earlier this year after Wearnes also gave up the franchise voluntarily.
The moves come as sales of super sports and ultra luxury cars slow to a crawl.
They were first impacted by 2013's vehicle financing restrictions and progressive registration taxes but demand took a further hit this year as the economic outlook darkened.
Wearnes and Eurokars, however, say they are in it for the long term. "This segment will always cycle for various reasons," said Andre Roy, CEO of Wearnes Automotive. "We've been in business for 109 years, so we take a long- term view."
Mr Roy explained that Aston Martin is a "highly desirable" brand with a strong heritage and exciting product line-up over the next few years. "It is also a very good strategic fit within the Wearnes group, as our focus is on premium brands."
Eurokars also sees McLaren as a "long-term investment" despite the current tough situation.
"McLaren is the most successful marque in Formula One history, and we are greatly inspired by its story of triumph and its passion for racing and engineering excellence," said executive chairman Karsono Kwee. "We at Eurokars see good potential for the brand and its products, and have confidence in the breadth of capabilities of the McLaren cars."
He added that the more "attainable" Sports Series, the 570S and 540C, are due here in early 2016.
To that end, Eurokars has spent S$3 million on the takeover for a new showroom at 5 Leng Kee Road, as well as other investments in staff training and workshop equipment.
Wearnes declined to comment on the costs involved but said things can only get better for Aston Martin.
The group has also secured the Aston Martin franchise in Malaysia and the strategy is to "increase awareness and reach out more aggressively to buyers in this segment".
"We felt it was important to put a flagship brand centre in the heart of Leng Kee Road to not only increase awareness, but also to provide a convenient service location," said Mr Roy. The previous Aston Martin franchisee's main facility was in Tuas.
He added: "Not unlike what happened when we took over the Land Rover brand five years ago, many people who had not previously considered Aston Martin are expressing interest in buying the car."
The McLaren brand is not going to stay stationary either, with Eurokars "committed to the continued growth of the McLaren brand".
Eurokars is also active in Indonesia and Australia.
"With Eurokars' experience in the luxury car segment, we will do our utmost in delivering the brand promise and outstanding ownership experience to all the passionate McLaren owners here in Singapore," said Mr Kwee. "The years ahead promise many more highlights for McLaren."