At last year’s Beijing auto show, a man walked up to the Roll Royce booth with a suitcase full of “Red Maos” – as the 100 yuan note is called in China, the largest note equals $15.40 – and walked away as the owner of a Rolls Royce Phantom. At least that’s what AFP heard. Because of taxes and duties, a Rolls-Royce Phantom started at 6.6 million yuan ($1 million) a year ago. That translated into 66,000 red banknotes.
At this year’s Shanghai show, no suitcases were proffered. However, “using connections to enter the show on the media preview day, millionaires bought two Rolls Royce Phantoms, which start at nine million yuan ($1.3 million) and four of the new Ghosts, starting at 5.1 million yuan.” The “connections” came cheap. On media days, there is a booming market for press passes outside of the show.
Aston Martin Aston Martin sold one of its super-luxury One-77s for 47 million yuan ($7.22 million.) “We don’t like to say it’s the most expensive car in the show, but we are pretty confident it will be,” Matthew Bennett, the Asia-Pacific director for British luxury car maker Aston Martin told AFP.
Despite a murderous 145 percent tax on imported luxury cars, China’s luxury car sales are expected to rise to more than 909,900 units this year, up from about 727,200 last year, according to forecasts by IHS Automotive.
China’s trend to conspicuous consumption might turn into its downfalls. There is rising public dissatisfaction with a widening wealth gap. The government is sensitive to this and has vowed to pursue more equitable growth in the future. As a first move, the government is clamping down on overly ostentatious displays of affection with dough. Already, Beijing’s government lashes out against billboards that advertise a flamboyant lifestyle. This is widely ignored. Now, Beijing handed down a regulation that hurts:
Beijing suddenly classified any vehicles beyond 6 meters (20 feet) as commercial vehicles, Automobilwoche [sub] reports. Meaning: They must stay in the truck lane and are banned from the ritzier thoroughfares. A billionaire might not reach his garage in the tonier parts of China’s capital. As an answer, Rolls Royce did not just debut an extended wheelbase Ghost in Shanghai. Rolls also promised a shortened Phantom that skirts the 6 meter limit.