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by Tim Beissmann

Ferrari is on track to smash its Australian sales record this year as the current range continues to attract more new and returning customers than ever before.

Ferrari sold 95 vehicles across the country in the first half of this year, up a staggering 82.7 per cent over the same period in 2014.

The iconic Italian brand’s full-year 2014 sales tallied 113 – a figure it’s set to surpass sometime in August this year.

Its all-time record of 163 – posted in 2008 just before the height of the GFC – also looks certain to tumble in the final months of the year.

Ferrari Australasia president and CEO Herbert Appleroth says the brand’s transition to a wholly owned subsidiary of Ferrari SpA two years ago is undeniably linked to this year’s unprecedented results.

“We’ve invested heavily in the Australian marketplace,” Appleroth said. “We set up a factory operation here in March 2013 and specifically we thought this market, while mature, still had some opportunities.

“We’ve averaged around 110-115 sales every year for the last five years. We don’t tend to talk about volume too much but … so far we’re up on last year, which was a great year for us.”

Ferrari has added three new dealers to its national network in 2015, and will have overhauled all of its existing showrooms by the end of the year. The local division has also created a Ferrari training academy to ensure its employees know more about the cars and the brand than ever before.

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Appleroth says the current strong economic conditions were bringing more buyers to the brand.

“There’s clearly a great level of confidence in the marketplace. The timing is right.

“I think there’s been a period of abstinence with a lot of our clients, which maybe it wasn’t the right time to be treating themselves to a new Ferrari, but I think now with property prices going so well, equity, the unemployment rate is stable, I think now is the right time and they’re treating themselves.”

Appleroth said the cars were the real heroes, however, and the main driver for the lift in sales.

“What’s been fantastic is particularly with the California T it’s allowed us to speak to people who we normally wouldn’t speak to. Seventy per cent of the orders we’ve taken for the California T are new to Ferrari.

“What’s been a little bit surprising so far with the 488 GTB is … normally it’s the traditional V8 sports car buyer that buys the next model, normally they step up to the next car: a 430 owner becomes a 458 owner becomes a 488. While that loyalty is absolutely important for us we’re seeing unprecedented levels of new people coming to the 488, people we’ve never spoken to before.

“From an economic point of view we’re seeing clients who have not gone from a 360 to a 430 to a 458. We haven’t seen some of these people who own 360 and 430 in 10 years. They’ve now put their money down on a 488.

“The 488, we’ve never seen… It’s an overwhelming demand for this car.”

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Ferrari Australasia has “well over 100” orders and a two-year delivery backlog for the new 488 GTB that lands in December, as well as a year-long waiting list for the 488 Spider that’s due in the second quarter of 2016.

Though Ferrari Australasia doesn’t provide a model-by-model sales breakdown, Appleroth said the California T has been “immensely popular”, demand for the 458 Speciale has “surprised everyone”, and said “that momentum has just continued with the 488 GTB”.

He also gave an insight into the kind of vehicles new Ferrari owners were stepping out of.

“It’s different for different models. California T we’re seeing a lot of people coming from the traditional GT market, so you’re talking things like Bentley and CL Benz. With 458 and 488 we’re seeing people coming from Porsche and AMG surprisingly, so not even really true competitors, but they’re just stepping up.”

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Appleroth highlighted two other factors that he believes are driving sales of new Ferraris: aftersales and resale value.

“I think what’s most important with this car and the range of Ferraris, which no other car maker has followed us surprisingly, is that included in the price of the car is a seven-year maintenance program. That gives enormous confidence to our clients that there’s not going to be these additional costs which they may be scared of. I guess that’s one of the reasons why we’re getting so many people from other brands, these new-to-Ferrari people, is because we’re taking that element of risk out of the market.

“Front and centre for our brand is resale value, and it’s quite incredible that we have so much focus from our network on pre-owned. That’s one of my biggest KPIs for our network is pre-owned sales. We’ve actually seen sales of pre-owned Ferraris within our network double in two years, and accordingly guess what happened? Resale values of five current models increased last year, so having exclusivity of the new cars, making them less freely available, pushes people to purchase pre-owned or pre-loved cars, the value goes up, so the gap between purchasing a new Ferrari and trading in your old Ferrari becomes less, and that’s what a responsible luxury brand should do.”

Appleroth said balancing supply and demand was the biggest challenge of his job.

“My job is basically not to sell Ferrari, it’s actually to get more cars for our customers because the demand is so strong that I need to be a great negotiator to try to get more cars for Australia.

“We certainly don’t want to flood the market – it’s still a responsible number of cars to bring in because resale value is core, but at this stage there’s been no change with volume globally.

“Luckily we’ve been able to get some more cars for Australia, because right now before we’ve even launched [the 488 GTB] to customers we’ve got a two-year waiting list, and really beyond two years is quite difficult for our clients.”




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