Speaking exclusively to CarAdvice at last night's official Melbourne Ferrari 488 GTB unveiling, Ferrari Australasia president and CEO Herbert Appleroth said that just one week after the new super sportscar’s Sydney-based Australian launch – where he revealed orders of “well over 100” cars and an expected two-year wait for deliveries – estimates are now moving beyond 400 cars and towards a possible four-year wait.
“It’s been overwhelming to say the least,” Appleroth (pictured below) said. “We’ve been, to be honest, overwhelmed. So our guys don’t know which way’s up, which way’s down. It’s never happened like this before.
“I think you’ll find we could quite comfortably sell out our entire production for the model of the 488 GTB, which is at least four years.”
Appleroth claims that while the 488 GTB’s predecessor, the 458 - launched in Australia back in 2010 - has so far racked up sales of “well over” 200 Italia coupes and “close to” 200 Spider convertibles, the new model will go “well beyond that.”
“We’re still trying to let the dust settle to see exactly the situation of 488.
“I think by the end of the year we probably will be sold out for its lifecycle – particularly for coupe but Spider maybe not because we’re starting six months later.”
Citing daily order collections, Appleroth says the response to the $469,888 488 GTB is unparalleled, even when compared to the buzz and sky-high buyer interest that surrounded the 458's precursor, and 360 replacement, the F430.
“It’s unprecedented. Well beyond 430,” Appleroth said.
Australian deliveries for Ferrari have historically taken up around two to three per cent of global production, and the initial order intake for the 488 - based on first images alone - has been "very similar" to "a little bit more" than the 430, he added.
Since the Sydney launch, things have shifted into new territory - although you can't please everybody, with the wife of Australian 488 GTB buyer number three telling CarAdvice she's more excited about getting her Tesla Model S P85D in the coming weeks.
“What’s been the biggest difference is so many new-to-Ferrari people,” Appleroth said.
Buoyed by a strengthening post-GFC global economic environment and a positive local fiscal climate highlighted by low interest rates, Appleroth says this, combined with a multi-million dollar investment in the Ferrari dealer network, has created an almost ideal situation for interested buyers.
“Most of our clients are entrepreneurs, small to medium entrepreneurs or enterprises, so they’re not CEOs of organisations but they’re people who employ people. And what we’re finding is they’re doing extremely well. So now it’s time to reward themselves.
“[But then] just yesterday, we had a lady call up and say, ‘I want one.’ Unqualified, never been on our data base, never even looked at a Ferrari.
“For these new-to-Ferrari people… you’re probably coming from another brand which is used to leasing. When have you been able to get access to a Ferrari at these sorts of interest rates? Never. So they’re taking advantage of that.
“I don’t want to use ‘perfect storm’ but it’s a whole bunch of a lot of work from Maranello, from us, from our dealerships, which has all come together at the right time.”
The downside, Appleroth points out, is disappointing some loyal customers who can’t get access to cars, even limited-edition examples, because sales are moving too fast.
“It’s a great problem to have,” Appleroth said.
“It’s a delicate problem [but] it does mean I need to be a good negotiator with the factory...”
Powered by a 492kW/760Nm twin-turbocharged 3.9-litre V8 – up 73kW and 220Nm over the naturally aspirated 4.5-litre 458 Italia V8 – the 488 GTB claims 0-100km/h in 3.0 seconds, 0-200km/h in 8.3 seconds and a 15 per cent more fuel efficient combined cycle figure of 11.4L/100km.
Starting at $469,888 (before on-road costs), it’s also $55,529 more affordable than the model it replaces.
Click on the Photos tab for more Ferrari 488 GTB Melbourne unveiling images by Tom Fraser.