Ferrari crash may slam brakes on supercar sale

Some dealers apprehend the impact may be felt beyond Kolkata and affect sales negatively in other Indian cities as well.

United Arab Emirates, June 10, 2018

Last Sunday’s Ferrari California T crash on a highway near Kolkata may have an unintended fallout.

Businessman Shibaji Roy’s tragic death in the high-speed crash may bring to a screeching halt the buoyant sale of supercars in the city, fear dealers, who are bracing for a lull of at least six to eight months as the accident plays on potential customers’ minds.

Some dealers apprehend the impact may be felt beyond Kolkata and affect sales negatively in other Indian cities as well at least till technical details of the accident emerge from the ongoing probe.

The accident has sent jitters across markets in the country, says Dhiraj Jha, a sub-dealer of Ferrari and Lamborghini.


The accident has sent jitters across markets in the country, says Dhiraj Jha, a sub-dealer of Ferrari and Lamborghini and an authorised Rolls Royce dealer in Delhi who operates in the Kolkata market.

“There will be a drop in sale of supercars. I estimate the decline to be nearly 60% this year. A big chunk of supercars are purchased by rich dads for their sons and, sometimes, daughters. After this accident, no dad will allow their children near a super car, leave alone buy one for them, at least for a while,” he adds.

Around 13 new supercars were bought in 2017 by customers in Kolkata, with price tags ranging between Rs 2 crore and Rs 4 crore. Porsche insiders say the business in Kolkata has been healthy, with the annual turnover from super-car sales touching Rs 50 crore.

But the accident will change all that, fear dealers and sub-dealers, who say they expect to fall way short of the target of selling 20 supercars in Kolkata this year.

“The crash is a big blow. The owners are almost like a family in this segment. They are friends, they go on drives together. When something like this happens with someone as popular as Roy, it affects everyone. Right now, I would not want my son to get into a supercar. That is the reality. Realistically, I would be glad if we can achieve 40% of our target,” Amit Modi, co-owner of Machiner’s Paradise and dealer of pre-owned supercars, said.

Industry in wait-and-watch mode

Kolkata had only a handful of discreet super-car owners till five years ago, like Babi Nobis, Golam Momen and Somenath Roychoudhury, who did not like flaunting their dream machines. But all that changed with the arrival of Porsche in the city in 2012 as it exposed the rest of the city to fancy cars and a new breed of super-car customers emerged after 2013.

The city now has at least 35 super-car owners, most of them first-generation businessmen who do not mind flashing their cars. They go out on drives, within the city late at night or outside on highways on weekend mornings. “It brings you instant fame because people flock to the car and inquire about the owner,” said a businessman, who bought a super-car instead of a house with a fancy address because he wished to be seen in one.

Another owner bought one because his friend had purchased one. “The thrill of a ride in a super-car and the attention it draws are intoxicating,” he said.

But the dealers’ fears about crashing sales following a widely reported super-car crash is not a new phenomenon. Super-car crashes have temporarily affected sales worldwide. Super cars sell in small numbers and all the buyers are high-net-worth clients; the usual response from this niche market following an incident is to wait till the scare passes.

Companies that manufacture super cars have asked dealers and sub-dealers to refrain from making any statement till the jitters caused by the accident die down. Tushar Raj, marketing head at Big Boy Toyz, a certified pre-owned luxury car dealership headquartered in Gurgaon, feels the bump, if any, will be temporary. “Public memory is short. Confidence will be restored if the probe shows that the accident wasn’t caused by the car. Ferrari makes robust cars. Car enthusiasts know that,” he added. The firm plans to enter the Kolkata market along with Hyderabad.

indiatimes