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Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Lamborghini, Bentley: Russia’s rich drive roaring luxury car trade

Bentley
The St. Petersburg Times has a very interesting article about Russia's new high society which can afford such cars as the Bentley Continental or the Lamborghini Gallardo.
The businessman in the white linen pants and flashy designer shirt ran his fingers over the 300,000 euro Lamborghini Murcielago, eyeing it as a new stablemate for his Bentley and Ferrari. He then hopped in and let a professional driver take him for a spin at a recent invitation-only test drive at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium.

“I would like to add one to my collection,” said the beaming businessman, who only gave his name as Vladimir. “I never thought about owning such cars growing up in the Soviet Union. ... Now that we see how the rest of the world lives, we want the same standard of luxury too.”

As Russia roars through its seventh straight year of robust economic growth, the market for foreign cars is expanding at a dizzying pace. But as an increasing number of Russians can afford to buy Mercedes and BMWs, the country’s super-rich are scouring Western Europe for ever more exclusive brands.

Unfazed by customs duties of up to 50 percent and a limited number of good roads — and seasons — to show off their wheels, Russia’s millionaires are forcing luxury car dealers to exceed sales quotas and raid other European showrooms to make up for the shortfall.

Sales of Bentley cars, which start at 220,000 euros ($264,000), are beating all expectations.

In 2003, when the British automaker opened its Moscow dealership, it sold 40 cars, double its quota for the country. The following year, Bentley raised its quota to 60 but ended up selling 95 cars. In the first half of 2005 alone, 140 models have been sold, suggesting that this year’s Russia quota of 230 will again be broken.


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Source: The St. Petersburg Times, picture by Autoweek

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