Crippled by supply shortages, car sales are slowing - but ultra-luxury vehicles are hitting record highs.
In recent years, the ultra-luxury vehicle segment has enjoyed great growth as an increasing number of wealthy consumers opt to splurge out on a high-end car or SUV. Aston Martin, for example, managed to sell nearly 2,000 vehicles in the USA, spurred on by strong demand for the DBX. But it's not just the Gaydon-based brand celebrating success; Ferrari, Rolls-Royce, Lamborghini, and Bugatti, among others, all have a reason to crack out the champagne.
Speaking to Automotive News, Alan Haig of Haig Partners - an advisory firm for dealerships - said combined US sales from McLaren, Maserati, Lamborghini, Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Aston Martin, and Ferrari climbed by as much as 5% from 2018 to last year. "The market is far less volatile and more lucrative today because of the rise in affluent households...and the manufacturers are responding with new [products] and higher prices," he said.
The reason behind this ever-strengthening luxury boom has to do with the pandemic. Confined to their homes, ultra-rich households were unable to splurge on pricey vacations or other experiences. Itching to spend money, they turned to the world's luxury brands, cars included. As such, even Bugatti has seen surprising sales figures - but it's nothing compared to the mounds of cash Bentley and Rolls-Royce are raking in.
Along with a handful of more mainstream brands, the British brands posted even stronger first-quarter sales compared to last year. As is the case with Aston Martin, SUVs are behind this unrelenting growth. Bentley sold 4,212 cars in the Americas last year, with the Bentayga responsible for 40% of total sales.
There has also been a change in attitude towards brands. Previously, a BMW would be considered aspirational, but a growing number of wealthy individuals are craving more. Exotic car dealer Mike Ward remarked, "The Lexus SUV may be their everyday car, but they still want the new, extra luxury."
Ward, who recently opened a Rolls-Royce showroom in August 2021, said his entire 25 vehicle-strong 2022 allocation is already sold out. Lamborghini has also seen huge demand for its products in the past few years and, again, this is driven by the company's SUV. Out of 8,405 vehicles delivered across the globe, a considerable 5,021 of them were the high-riding Urus. In the USA alone, the Italian brand sold 2,472 cars in 2021.
Over in Maranello, Ferrari is experiencing a similar uptick. In fact, Prancing Horses are proving so desirable that there's a waiting list of up to three years, said RDS Automotive Group, Robert DiStanislao. This reflects what the company CEO Benedetto Vigna said earlier this year. "We have the strongest-ever order book in our history...double digits versus the prior year," said Vigna, "and covering well into 2023." That demand should only sky-rocket when the V12-powered Purosangue arrives.