Hong Kong sports car business hits the skids

Wed Dec 24, 2008 9:15am EST
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By Michael Flaherty

HONG KONG (Reuters Life!) - It's a business with a history of riding out economic slumps, but Hong Kong's sports car dealers say sales have all but skidded to a halt.

While the city's ubiquitous sports cars and luxury vehicles may not be an official economic indicator, they have symbolized the amount of money that's flowed into this Asian financial hub in the last decade.

Now they're showing just how much money has flowed out.

"This car usually wouldn't last here for more than a week," said Edmund Cheung, who manages a used car dealership, as he passed a silver 2007 BMW convertible priced at HK$698,000 ($90,000). "It's been a month now."

Even in 2003, when Hong Kong's economy was hit by the SARS virus outbreak, dealers say slick, pricey cars still zoomed off the lots. But the city, like the many other parts of the world, is in a recession now, and its economic picture is darkening.

For some of the more niche dealers, such as Lamborghini, sales still appear to be holding up.

But for those who are accustomed to selling a barely driven Jaguar to a local entrepreneur or a newly arrived expatriate banker, times are tough.

Sales last month at the second-hand New Method Motors automall where Cheung works were a mere 92 cars, worth HK$40.8 million, according to the mall's monthly sales tally. The mall is used to selling more than double that per month.   Continued...

<p>Max Cheng, Brand Manager of Lamborghini Hong Kong, poses for a photo during an interview in this December 16, 2008 photo. REUTERS/Woody Wu</p>