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McLaren set to race off to new dealership
McLAREN is set to zip from one end of Leng Kee Road to the other very soon. It is understood that the British sports car marque will be getting a new dealer three years after Wearnes Automotive introduced it to Singapore, and that an official announcement will be made shortly.
The S$1.25 million McLaren 650S will move out of its Wearnes showroom at 45 Leng Kee Road to a new Eurokars home at 5 Leng Kee Road, likely by the fourth quarter of this year.
The Eurokars Group is owned by motor magnate Karsono Kwee, and No. 5 now houses its pre-owned operations.
Mr Kwee also represents the Rolls-Royce, Porsche, Mini and Mazda brands in Singapore. When contacted, Eurokars declined comment on the McLaren development.
The McLaren nameplate is closely associated with Formula One racing and interest in securing the Singapore dealership for its road cars had been high in late 2009. Wearnes Automotive was eventually chosen in early 2011.
In 2012, 33 units of the MP4-12C mid-engined two-seater model were registered, with prices starting at S$850,000 without the Certificate of Entitlement (COE).
The cars are manufactured by McLaren Automotive, which counts Singapore billionaire Peter Lim as one of its shareholders and which has a regional office in Singapore.
The following year, registration numbers fell to 25, partly due to cooling measures in the form of loan curbs and a progressive registration tax structure.
Last year, McLaren notched up only 11 registrations, one of which was a grey import not sold by Wearnes. In the same year, Lamborghini managed only 10 units because its entry-level Gallardo model was being replaced by the Huracan. But another competitor, Ferrari, was able to chalk up 31 units (including parallel imports).
One observer said the numbers may have been one reason for the parting of ways, but it was not the only one; he stressed that the separation was amicable.
"It was a convenient time to end the relationship, with the contract up for renewal and the company's change of ownership," he said, referring to Wearnes' recent sale.
Last August, WBL Corp disposed of its Wearnes Automotive unit to StarChase Motorsports (Singapore) for S$455 million.
It is understood that McLaren had invited several parties to pitch for the franchise around the time of the Singapore Grand Prix last year. The two parties which were eventually shortlisted have extensive experience in the super-sports and ultra-luxury car segments.
Now that the McLaren transfer seems to have been all but settled, all eyes are on another high-end brand that could be changing hands soon. This prestigious make is seen as highly desirable, but has not been performing as well as expected recently.
One observer said that even the current poor market conditions for high-end autos should not dampen interest in this particular brand.