Tony O'Kane | Oct 16, 2008

So, say you're a young and bright stockbroker who's just earned his first major bonus after some risky (but lucrative) trading. What do you do with your newfound cashola? Well, if you're like most stockbrokers, you'll have probably already high-tailed it to your local Fazza, Lambo or Roller dealership to pick up a fancy ride, which is great, right?

Well... not really. Not now anyway. Reports are trickling in from prestige dealerships across the region saying that demand has all but evaporated for high-end automobiles, with many new supercar owners selling their high-dollar whips for substantially less than what they bought them for.

Sydney-based luxury car dealer Normal Elkordi told AFP of his own experience of the phenomenon in a recent interview:

"These blokes have probably lost a lot of money in shares, their bonuses come on shares. Their expenses are through the roof," Elkordi said.

"A lot of them are upfront. I'm not saying they can't make the repayments and they are going to get repossessed, it's just they have to get rid of that debt. We're not talking Holdens or Fords here, we're talking Aston Martins, we're talking Ferraris. I've never seen it like this before."

It's a sentiment echoed across other parts of South-East Asia, with demand for Rolls-Royces in Hong Kong (a former British Colony that currently boasts the highest ratio of Rolls-Royces to people) virtually drying up. General manager of Rolls-Royce Hong Kong, Leon Roy, told the South China Morning Post that while Hong Kong's super-wealthy aren't exactly reduced to begging in the streets, the current economic climate is prompting them to hold off on buying mega-dollar cars until things improve.

Audi expects demand to be blunted for the Singapore market too, while Lexus is anticipating buyers will shift from its bigger, thirstier cars like the LS and LX to smaller more economical models, like the IS and GS.

It's not all bad news however. Ferrari expects big things from its recent expansion into the Chinese market, and judging by the throng of Chinese media that TMR saw crowded around the Ferrari booth at the Sydney Motor Show, the Italian manufacturer's foray into the Middle Kingdom may pay off quite handsomely.

The rapid dumping of near-new supercars into prestige dealerships also has a silver lining. While they no doubt represent the broken dreams and emptied wallets of their previous owners, they'll also make a great low-cost buy for when the economy (and our bank balances) bounce back into the black. The only question remaining is just how long we'll have to wait until that rebound comes along...

[AFP]

Follow Tony O'Kane on Google+