A STURDY economy, new models and a diminishing supply of certificate of entitlement (COE) have spurred luxury and sports car sales to new highs, as most high-end cars announced record sales last year, The Straits Times (ST) reported.
The luxury marques outdid economical brands for COEs as premiums rose on a small quota, thriving as overall car sales dived to about 42,000. The figure is less than half the annual average for the past five years.
"High COE prices form a smaller percentage of the total price of a premium car, so buyers of such cars still perceive them to be reasonably well worth purchasing," veteran motoring writer Winston Lee told ST. "Also, such buyers are better able to stomach high COE prices than others in the market."
The number of millionaires in Singapore increased by a third last year, noted Dennis Toh, a lecturer at Temasek Polytechnic who specialised in consumer behaviour. He added that the robust stock market "resulted in more earnings among the well-heeled".
Rolls-Royce led the luxe scorecard, selling 37 cars, more than thrice its 2009 sales, at north of $1 million each. The strong performance was largely due to the new $1.05 million Ghost, a less exorbitant model as compared to the $1.45 million Phantom.
Runner-up was Ferrari which sold 69 units, more than its 2009 sales doubled. Similarly, the postive figures were by virtue of new models - the California convertible and F458, which cost around $800,000 and $950,000 respectively.
Land Rover, Porsche, Aston Martin, Audi and BMW also reported positive results.
Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar and Lamborghini met with strong growth in 2010 despite missing record heights.
Doing equally well were brands in the European market - Volkswagen, Citroen and Mini achieved record sales last year.
Not included in the positive picture, however, were budget and mass-market brands like the Japanese, Korean, Chinese and Malaysian makes, which reported a considerable plunge in sales.
For example, Honda and Toyota encountered a 66per cent and 61per cent drop in sales respectively.
Industry watchers say that in the next few years, Mercedes-Benz or BMW could rise to become Singapore's best-selling brand - a position dominated by Toyota for a straight nine years now.
High-end motor companies have a mixed forecast regarding this year's sales.
"I don't think this year will be better than last year," Mr Karsono Kwee, executive chairman of the Eurokars Group told ST. "I'll be happy with about the same number of sales." Mr Kwee said there could be fewer making fast cash as a result of the recent measures aimed to cool the property market.
Ital Auto, however, gave a more promising outlook. 2010 was the Ferrari agent's first full year since taking over the Italian marque from Hong Seh Motors, and the spokesman described its sales as "encouraging".
"There is definitely room to grow," he told ST. "We expect a 10-15per cent year-on-year increase in deliveries over the next few years."
The luxe segment could soon see a fresh face - British-based McLaren told ST it is "on the verge" of appointing an agent here.
Group chairman Ron Dennis told the press this week that he is eyeing 4per cent of the superlative market. Diverging from its flourishing Formula One ventures, McLaren has launched the MP4-12C, its first all-independent road car. It will have a pricetag of around $950,000.