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Rolls-Royce, Lambo, Ferrari buck exoticar sales decline

X-Factor: The Aston Martin DBX SUV should help reverse the British brand’s sales slide in 2020.

Exotic car sales down 10.8 per cent in 2019 following 4.9 per cent slump in 2018


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28 Jan 2020

THE rarefied air in exotic car showrooms around Australia was disturbed by 10.8 per cent fewer customers in 2019, accelerating a downturn at the top end of town that started with a 4.9 per cent decline in 2018.


Much of the downturn came from the arguably semi-exotic brand Maserati, its 482 sales last year marking a 24.9 per cent fall and an unwelcome follow-up to the 13.2 per cent decline recorded in 2018 (on 642 units) after the Italian marque peaked at 740 sales in 2017 – the year the Levante SUV launched and immediately found 429 buyers.


The trident brand is the biggest seller among a cohort that includes Aston Martin, Bentley, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Lotus, McLaren and Rolls-Royce, all of which deal in much lower volumes/limited supply and, if we take Maserati out of the mix, collectively withstood the slowing market conditions with combined sales down less than 1.1 per cent in 2019 against an overall new-vehicle market that was 7.8 per cent in the red.


Many of the deliveries made last year were for orders placed well before any belt-tightening among ultra-high-net-worth individuals, although most super-sports and luxury brands are anticipating another strong year ahead.


We also note that Australia’s exotic car sales in 2019 were three times higher than a decade ago. In the same timeframe, the overall new-vehicle market has grown 13.4 per cent.


Aside from Maserati, British brand Aston Martin copped the brunt of Australia’s market contraction with its 129 deliveries representing a 22.8 per cent drop. Aston’s first SUV, the DBX, will arrive Down Under mid-year and promises to reverse the company’s fortunes here and globally.


Compatriot Bentley moved 191 vehicles, down 8.2 per cent, including a 27.6 per cent drop-off in Bentayga SUV sales. An all-new Flying Spur limousine will enter the mix this year, although this is hardly going to move the sales needle compared with the Continental and Bentayga.


It was not all bad news for Britain, with Rolls-Royce up 37.5 per cent to a record 55 deliveries, courtesy of 19 Cullinan SUVs entering the mix. A Black Badge version of the Cullinan should prove popular among high-rolling Aussies, while the next-generation Ghost junior limousine may not arrive soon enough to have an impact on local sales.


McLaren’s auspiciously symmetrical result of 88 units in 2019 was consistent with the year prior – but down on its 2017 peak of 116 sales – while the GT supercar that arrived last November is expected to become one of the brand’s best-sellers here.


Keeping it British, Lotus shifted one more car than it did in 2018, with a total of 57 departing dealerships. Aside from the $3 million Evija electric hypercar, an as-yet unnamed and unrevealed all-new sportscar is in the pipeline for this year, but there is no confirmation for Australia out of Hethel.


Moving along to Italy, more than half of Lamborghini’s 147 Australian sales in 2019 were the Urus SUV in its first full year on sale, helping the brand to a 9.7 per cent sales increase and softening the blow of its sportscar deliveries going backward to the tune of 37.5 per cent.


This is expected to reverse somewhat as the Huracan Evo range that began filtering in last August fleshes out with more variants such as the drop-top Spyder and entry-level RWD (rear-wheel drive).


Ferrari, with no SUV yet in the line-up, achieved a 6.6 per cent upswing to celebrate another record year in Australia with 257 sales.


Maranello’s new Roma coupe, expected to arrive toward the end of 2020 and sit at the lower end of the range between the Portofino and F8 Tributo, may not have time to significantly impact the Prancing Horse’s sales figures this year.


The Roma will be preceded by the F8 Spider drop-top that should do reasonable volume here alongside a handful of mega-money models including the 812 GTS drop-top and SF90 Stradale plug-in hybrid flagship.


In 2009 the world was in the grip of the global financial crisis and although small volumes and model lifecycles make year-by-year sales comparisons difficult for exotic car brands, it is worth comparing number of deliveries then with 2019.


The starkest difference was Rolls-Royce, which in 2009 sold nine cars in Australia compared with 55 in 2019 – a 511.1 per cent increase – followed by Lamborghini which made 26 deliveries in 2009 and 147 last year (up 465.4 per cent).


Bentley went from 37 units in 2009 to 191 in 2019, up 416.2 per cent and Maserati leapt from 120 sales in 2009 to 482 last year, a 301.7 per cent increase. Also in triple-digit percentage increases was Ferrari, which sold 104 cars in 2009 and 257 last year (147.1 per cent higher).


Aston Martin sold 74 vehicles here in 2009 and 129 in 2019, up 74.3 per cent. Lotus was the only brand to go backwards, selling one less car in 2019 than the 58 it shifted in 2009. McLaren Automotive did not report a car sold in Australia until 2012.


Ferrari, Rolls-Royce and Lamborghini all enjoyed record Australian sales in 2019 while the best year in the past decade for the other exotics apart from Aston Martin and Lotus was 2017, when Maserati moved 740 units, Bentley sold 219 vehicles and McLaren reported 116 deliveries.


Aston Martin’s peak was 167 units in 2018 and Lotus topped out at 71 sales in 2013.

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