Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Lamborghini’s roaring decade in Singapore

Melvin Goh sells cars to people who do not intend to drive them. As his dealership EuroSports Auto celebrated a decade of officially distributing Lamborghinis last year, all Mr Goh would have needed as a progress report was a languid wave at a Lamborghini Reventon Roadster.

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Guanyu 道 said...

Lamborghini’s roaring decade in Singapore

Sales have been rising as rich boys snap up their new toys

By JOYCE HOOI
18 January 2012

Melvin Goh sells cars to people who do not intend to drive them. As his dealership EuroSports Auto celebrated a decade of officially distributing Lamborghinis last year, all Mr Goh would have needed as a progress report was a languid wave at a Lamborghini Reventon Roadster.

In 2010, four people bought a Reventon Roadster each from EuroSports Auto as collectors’ items that went unregistered with the Land Transport Authority (LTA). At 1.1 million euros (S$1.8 million) each, Mr Goh sold more than four million euros of cars that did not see tarmac in 2010.

Unlike Lamborghini’s expressive beasts, Mr Goh can be surprisingly understated when it comes to explaining certain things, such as why someone would buy something that will almost never see the outside of a garage. ‘(The Reventon Roadster) is a piece of art, really. It’s very nice,’ the managing director of EuroSports Auto says.

To be sure, Mr Goh does business in the supercar sweet spot of one of the best markets in the world. With four units of the Reventon Roadster sold, drivers here bought more than one-third of the global production of 15 units. Within Singapore, Lamborghini’s sales figures have also soared since Mr Goh took over the distributorship in 2001. That year, LTA records show that not a single Lamborghini was registered. Three years later, 20 Lamborghinis were put on the road in 2004.

In 2009, flying in the face of seemingly interminable recession, EuroSports Auto hit the 50-unit mark for the first time and the following year, it posted a record sale of 54 Lamborghinis.

This, in recent times, has been all the more remarkable as most of the car trade here saw sales shrink because of tightening Certificate of Entitlement quotas.

On top of that, EuroSports Auto, which also distributes Alfa Romeo and Lotus, has been courting supercar brand Pagani, according to talk in the trade, and could be closing the deal anyday now. One Pagani is priced from $3.7 million.

Last year, annual sales for the dealership’s Lamborghinis stood in the low-40s. According to Mr Goh, sales would have gone past the 50-unit mark yet again had it not been for a delay in the factory’s delivery of the new Aventador that was launched in early 2011 and priced at about $1.5 million.

‘When there’s a brand new model like this, it’s totally new from ground-up. This car has the carbon-fibre monocoque chassis, which in the production line has never been done before. Everything has to be learnt all over again,’ Mr Goh explains.

‘By next year, cars should be coming according to plan.’

By all accounts, Mr Goh is hardly fussed about not closing the last year of his Lamborghini decade with yet another record sales figure. The new Aventador has taken in 85 bookings since it was launched and fewer than 10 have been delivered.

This bodes well for the dealership, which expects the Aventador to account for about 20 per cent of overall Lamborghini sales. ‘It’s got everything to do with wanting the newest toy. So when you’ve got an Aventador, everybody wants one,’ Mr Goh says.

It also pays to have a clientele that switches cars more frequently than most people change mobile phones. Currently, 60-70 per cent of Lamborghini customers are repeat buyers. Several of them have long left their second Lamborghini in the dust.

‘We have people who’ve already bought six or seven cars from us over the last eight years,’ Mr Goh says. ‘Most of them get rid of the current one and pick up a new one.’

They are starting on Lamborghinis sooner in life, too. ‘The average age is coming down. It used to be about 50s five years ago. Today, it’s about early 40s,’ Mr Goh adds.

Despite all signs of growing decadence in this select supercar slice of the car market, Mr Goh knows that this Midas streak cannot last forever.

Guanyu 道 said...

‘I don’t think we’re going to get the kind of growth that we had the last five years. Every year, we’ve been doing 20-30 per cent growth. If we are able to maintain it even at a growth of 5-10 per cent a year, it’ll be considered very good. It’s kind of matured already, you know?’ Mr Goh says.

‘If you look at a 10-year cycle, we’ll probably average maybe 55-60 cars in the future.’

Even as the growth rate will inevitably taper off, Mr Goh has the parallel import trade to contend with. In recent years, parallel imports have accounted for three or four units sold a year - not tremendous, but significant enough to hover on the periphery of being an annoyance.

Mention parallel imports, and Mr Goh’s languidness dissipates.

‘If you want it cheap, then don’t expect us to provide you the service. It’s none of my business. It’s your money. I don’t want to know and I need not know,’ he says, eyes flashing.

Even the factory, he says, does not honour the warranty of ‘grey import cars’. It is clear to Mr Goh that there are Lamborghini drivers, and then there are Lamborghini drivers.

‘If (someone has) bought the used car in the market from anywhere else and registers with us in our database, we invite them to our parties. But if it’s a grey import car, we don’t. That car has never contributed a single cent to the piggy bank.’

He leans back in the sleek couch of his office as behind him, a Lamborghini growls to life in the workshop.

‘I’m not about to do charity.’