Rolls-Royce said that the market for its super-luxury cars was picking up at a high pace across Asia as the effects of the global financial crisis recede.
“We're fast coming out of the financial crisis and China and India look like they will lead the way out in 2010 on a feel-good factor,” Rolls-Royce Asia-Pacific regional chief Colin Kelly said in New Delhi.
His comments came a day after the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development said in its latest forecast that emerging market economies China and India were poised to accelerate and Japan's recession had “bottomed out”. Kelly was speaking during the unveiling in India of Rolls-Royce's Ghost model, the automaker's new lower-cost saloon car, which will hit the Indian market in the second quarter of next year.
The Britain-based carmaker had a bumper year in 2008, when it sold a record 2,012 of its Phantom range worldwide and 200 across Asia, but has suffered this year from the global slump. Kelly said the company initially expected Asian sales to be down 35 percent this year but would now “do better than we thought” as sales have been picking up in the past few months. Next year sales would accelerate to “ over 400” cars in the region, he forecast. “ We're going from strength to strength in Asia.”
Sales globally were expected to increase to 2,500 in 2010, up sharply from the current year, when they “will be under 1,000,” said Kelly. In Asia, China will contribute half of the unit sales next year while India, which is becoming an increasingly key market, will account for 10 to 12 percent, he said. Rolls-Royce forecasts the Ghost will produce a big leap in sales in India, saying initial interest has been keen.
Kelly said the company expected to sell 50 to 60 Ghosts and up to 15 Phantoms in India in 2010 compared with around 15 Phantoms for this year.
The main buyers in India are self-made business people. “We used to sell to a lot of maharajas. Now we sell to commercial maharajas,” said Hal Serudin, spokesman for Rolls-Royce Asia Pacific.
The company's upbeat outlook for India came after US magazine Forbes reported the number of billionaires in the country had almost doubled in the last 12 months to 52.