Demand for 'Street Legal' Ultra-Luxury Cars Soars
CNBC Auto and Airline Industry Reporter
High-end cars are in high demand. In fact, ultra-luxury auto sales are off to a roaring start in 2013 as the wealthy car buyers snatch up Bentleys, Lamborghinis and other pricey models at a rate far greater than the industry sales pace.
"Things are pretty good," said Stephan Winkelmann, CEO of Lamborghini. "We had an up [increase] of 30 percent in the year 2012. We had a good distribution over the region so we had more than 70 percent sold outside Europe."
12 Cylinders to Burn
As the sales of ultra-luxury cars soar, so has demand for more speed and more unique models. Lamborghini saw especially strong demand for models—with 12 cylinder engines. "It is a record year in terms of V-12 sales for Lamborghini. We have never done so many V-12s in the entire life of Lamborghini, so it was a very good year," said Winkelmann.
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The wealthy want horsepower, even if it is unlikely they'll ever need it. Take the new Bentley Continental GTC, the fastest convertible in the world. It can go 0-to-60 miles per hour in 4.1 seconds, and has a max speed of 202 MPH. Impressive? You bet. However, it is not likely those who are spending almost a quarter million dollars for the new Continental GTC are pushing the car to its limits on a regular basis.
So why are horsepower and speed (along with incredible refinement and luxury) so important in the race to sell ultra-luxury cars? For many owners it is about the idea they can let loose with a street legal race car. Call it machismo behind the wheel.
Lambo's Newest Bull
The newest Lamborghini will also become one its rarest models. The new Veneno was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show and immediately generated the type of buzz you'd expect from a $3.9 Million Supercar. "It is fulfilling dreams at least for some people," said Winkelman.
Three people to be exact.
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Lamborghini is only building three copies of the Veneno and all have already been sold. One to a buyer in Saudi Arabia and two to buyers here in the United States—including Antoine Dominic a Lamborghini dealer in Long Island.
"If you look at Lamborghini in the last three or four years, they have done a few one-offs, special versions and every time it got better and better," said Dominic who was in Geneva to see the special 50th anniversary Lamborghini unveiled. "This time they were taking it to a whole different level, a level that I have not seen any car manufacturer has ever done. Normally a car manufacturer would do a little car massage, but this is beyond the concept car and also it is going to be a street legal car."
So will Dominic drive his new $4 Million Supercar or put it on display at his dealership?
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"The engineering levels this car has achieved, it is important to share it. And being a Lamborghini dealer I am looking forward to sharing it with customers and prospective customers to show what Lamborghini is all about….I intend to drive it for my pleasure driving, but it is a $4 million car so you don't just take it anywhere." said Dominic.
Bentley and Lamborghini are divisions of Volkswagen, and trade under the symbol VLKAY in the United States.
-By CNBC's Phil LeBeau; Follow him on Twitter @Lebeaucarnews
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