Despite a slew of government measures to impose more taxes on luxury cars, the sales of super cars costing 100 million won and more continue to sell strongly here.
Due to the heightened status of the global super car market, luxury automakers are stepping up their promotions to court local customers.
Next month, Italian super car maker Ferrari will launch the 488 Spider with the strongest driving performance yet to be available here.
Although the price is estimated at between the mid-300 million won to the mid-400 million won range, equivalent to the price of an apartment in Seoul, 60 people have already ordered the super car.
“After the 488 GTB model made its world premier, customers started ordering the car as early as May, knowing that the open car version of the 488 Spider’s local launch will be imminent,” said an official at importer FMK Korea. “Customer response has been beyond what we expected.”
In the midst of government plans to revise tax laws and insurance regulations to levy more taxes and cap insurance payments on high-priced imported cars, the popularity of the supercars has remained unabated.
According to the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association, sales of super cars priced at more than 100 million won, were 17,211 units in the first nine months this year, already surpassing the 14,976 supercars sold last year.
With an average of nearly 2,000 sales a month, the association estimates the number will go beyond 20,000 by the end of this year — an all-time high.
At the recent BMW new 7 Series launch — albeit its price is between 131 million won and 192 million won — more than 1,000 people ordered the car.
Its rival, the Mercedes-Maybach S Class, priced at 300 million won, has been selling nearly 100 vehicles a month since June, while German super car maker Porsche has sold 3,138 cars this year, up 22 percent from last year.
Industry insiders say corporate purchases are feeding the strong super car sales. In September, corporate sales comprised 37.3 percent of all car purchases, up 0.3 percent from a month earlier.
The number of imported cars registered under corporate names in September stood at 7,601, up 12.8 percent from the previous month.
“Although the government unveiled a series of measures to prevent those people who buy luxury cars under corporate cover to get tax deductions for these purchases and for maintenance of those cars, the measures have remained largely ineffective, leading to more luxury corporate car purchases here,” said Lee Hang-koo, a researcher at the Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade.
Following strong local sales, super car makers are courting customers with premium promotions.
Bentley recently launched two special edition Flying Spurs only available for customers in Korea, while Rolls-Royce has invited customers and held test-drives for its Ghost Series 2 model at the BMW Driving Center in Incheon.