Maserati showroom shutters in Beijing as austerity bites

‘New Normal’ economy a tough environment for high-end luxury supercars

Maserati sports car in China: a crackdown on corruption has  led to sluggish sales of high-end vehicles. Photograph:  Frederic J Brown/AFP/Getty Images

Maserati sports car in China: a crackdown on corruption has led to sluggish sales of high-end vehicles. Photograph: Frederic J Brown/AFP/Getty Images

 

I witnessed one of the most potent symbols that the Chinese economy might be getting ahead of itself about two years ago when, in one journey along Beijing’s Third Ring Road, I witnessed two separate fender-benders involving Maseratis.

There are still Italian supercars in the “new normal” economy in China, but the prevailing mood is one of prudence and modesty, so the super-rich are going for high-end Mercedes or BMWs rather than high-octane Lamborghinis and Ferraris.

A red Ferrari, its shell coated in thick dust, has been sitting in the basement of a friend’s apartment building in the capital’s Central Business District for well over a year now, and the security guards say they are not entirely sure to whom it belongs.

Against this kind of backdrop, it was not that surprising to hear that the Maserati showroom on Financial Street had closed down, with ballooning rents in the capital combining with falling sales to make the luxury dealership financially unworkable.

The other Maserati showroom in Jinbao, or Treasure, Street, is still open, as is the Rolls-Royce dealership nearby, but a number of top marques have moved out of the downtown area to more affordable facilities in the suburbs.

The crackdown on corruption has also led to sluggish sales.

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