Bugatti, Volkswagen AG’s supercar brand, and Fiat SpA’s Ferrari have sold out of their most expensive models as demand for luxury vehicles roars back.
All five of Bugatti’s 1.95 million-euro ($2.7 million) World Record, the globe’s fastest serial-production car, have been reserved. Chief Executive Officer Franz-Josef Paefgen showed the car, which has a top speed of 415 kilometers (258 miles) per hour, at the Paris Auto Show this week.
Bayerische Motoren Werke AG and Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz, the world’s two biggest luxury-car makers, are both targeting 10 percent sales increases this year as the economic recovery sparks a return of flashy purchases. BMW shares have surged 59 percent, Volkswagen has gained 37 percent and Daimler has advanced 25 percent this year.
“The reports of luxury’s death have been greatly exaggerated,” said Rebecca Lindland, an analyst at IHS Automotive in Lexington, Massachusetts. “People still want those luxury vehicles. Once you’re in luxury, it’s awfully hard to get out of it.”
Buyers hoping to purchase the Ferrari SA Aperta are also out of luck. Ferrari isn’t making any more of the 80 SA Apertas that it’s already sold. The model costs 400,000 euros and was built to honor car designers Sergio and Andrea Pininfarina.
“We are sorry for many Ferrari collectors, but we cannot do more,” Ferrari Chairman Luca Cordero di Montezemolo said in an interview in Paris yesterday. Ferrari is predicting double-digit growth in earnings and may end 2010 with close to record profit, he said.
Maserati, also owned by Fiat, unveiled the GranTurismo MC Stradale in Paris, the fastest, lightest model ever from the Italian marquee. The car surges to 100 kilometers per hour in 4.6 seconds and has a top speed of 301 kilometers per hour.
“Customers are looking forward to buying the new Maserati,” said Nicola Sculco, 64, a Milan lawyer who runs the Maserati Club in Italy and owns a 3200 GT Biturbo and several old Maseratis. “There’s enthusiasm on this model where Maserati marries its philosophy of elegance and style with speed and a sportive character.”
Maserati, whose deliveries through August are up 20 percent, is considering expanding into new segments and plans to add a new high-end sedan to boost sales, CEO Harald Wester said.
“Our order portfolio is increasing with each passing month,” Wester said. “2010 is proving to be a very good year for Maserati.”
VW’s ultra-luxury division, Bentley, already sold “quite a few” of its new Continental GT coupe at a reception in Paris last night, Paefgen said in an interview today. The 575-horsepower vehicle is priced at $213,000.
At Porsche SE, the limited-production 911 Speedster may sell out by the end of October as orders for the sports car grow “by the hour,” Porsche’s development chief Wolfgang Duerheimer said in an interview yesterday. The 408-horsepower vehicle, which will be limited to 356 cars, sells for $275,000.
“Since the middle of the year, we’ve been blessed with record order intakes on a monthly basis,” Duerheimer said. “Market sentiment is improving, things are pointing up.”
Owners of high-end cars such as Ferrari and Porsche are trying to skirt new-car jealousy by buying a new model equipped exactly like their current vehicle, Lindland said.
“That way the neighbors never really notice,” she said.
Recovering economies have helped consumers regain confidence, spurring automobile purchases. On top of that, in the high-end segment the availability of new models acts as its own incentive.
“New product helps; that stimulates consumer behavior,” Ian Robertson, BMW’s sales chief, said in an interview. With growing demand in China, Russia, Brazil, and other emerging markets, “we can look forward to a period where we continue to see those steps forward,” he said
BMW introduced a revamped version of the X3 mid-sized sport-utility vehicle and presented a 6-Series coupe concept in Paris. Sloped-back coupes, which appeal to sportier drivers, were popular at the show, with Mercedes debuting an overhauled CLS and Audi premiering the new A7 as performance and sex appeal took precedence over the latest advances in electric cars and engine efficiency.
“The premium auto will remain what it always has been, a highly emotional product,” said Thomas Weber, Mercedes’ development chief.
Bugatti’s World Record, which is part of the Veyron line, sold out 10 days after the super-car maker offered the five vehicles it plans to produce, spokeswoman Emanuela Wilm said.