Derek Kreindler’s provocative defense of the Maserati Kubang sparked off an interesting discussion among TTAC’s Best and Brightest yesterday, about the the macroeconomic outlook for luxury brands. Sure, the American economy is struggling to stay out of a double-dip recession, credit is no longer as available as it was in the pre-Lehman days, and some argue that worse is still to come… but for the moment, the high end of the luxury market couldn’t be doing better. Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Mueller-Oetvoes tells Reuters [via AN [sub]] that his brand will set a new sales record this year, and that the outlook for 2012 is good, saying
I have not seen any reluctance to consider buying a Rolls-Royce. I do not feel that sentiment is deteriorating in the luxury market. We are dealing with people who are unusually wealthy and never really have to ask themselves, can I still afford this or not?
And it’s one thing to just talk, but Rolls is also putting its money where its mouth is, initiating a $16m expansion to its Goodwood plant. And it’s not the only luxury brand that seems to be confused about this “recession” that the peasants keep going on about…
Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne joins the “what recession?” chorus, telling Bloomberg
If you go to the Ferrari stand, there aren’t any customers worried about the recession. The last Ferrari customers I saw at the show weren’t crying.
In fact, Ferrari is capping production at 7,000 annual units in order to maintain exclusivity. If a Ferrari customer were going to cry, it would only be because they were late to the waiting list and missed the latest must-have Italian stallion. Luckily Maserati is picking up the slack, as Bloomberg explains
Even without the Kubang SUV, Maserati aims to boost deliveries by almost eightfold to 45,000 cars in 2014 as it increases dealers by 150 percent worldwide.
According to IHS Global Insight, sales of the top-tier European luxury brands, Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini, Bentley, Rolls-Royce and Aston-Martin, will grow double digits this year and the next. Even with the growing possibility of a deep recession in Europe, a possible Euro-zone breakup and the persistent threat of a sovereign debt crisis, the good times are rolling for the global upper-crust. Says Credit Suisse analyst Erich Hauser:
The rich have gotten richer and the number of millionaires in emerging countries is really growing so the demographic trend is very positive. Things would have to get very nasty before they face a problem.
In the meantime, the rest of us can take our minds off the grim reality facing the less-than-super-wealthy by tuning in to the automotive mainstream media’s ongoing obsession with the most unobtainable of millionaire-mobiles. Because voyeurism is free (or 83 cents per issue if you subscribe now!) and the wealthy are just doing their part to keep us entertained. Welcome to the new economy…