On top of a car market paralyzed by the health crisis, luxury cars are shining: Rolls-Royce, Bentley and even Bugatti had a record year in 2021, with SUVs at the top of the sales list, these swollen vehicles that look like a whole-earth, but with services close to a sedan.
The Rolls (BMW Group) improved its historic record in 2019 by selling 5,586 cars. Wealthy customers flocked to the new “Ghost” coupe and the Cullinan SUV, sold from 300,000 euros in France.
“Best Exercise” in Bugatti History
Bentley and Lamborghini (Volkswagen Group) also unveiled their sales records this week with 14,659 and 8,405 cars sold worldwide, respectively, thanks in particular to their Bentayga and Urus SUVs, sold for around € 200,000.
On the hyper-luxury side, Bugatti welcomed “the best year ever in the company’s history”, with 150 cars ordered, for an entrance ticket of around three million euros.
“It’s the same everywhere: after the crises, the rich are richer and the poor are poorer, philosopher Adolfo De Stefani Cosentino, president of the Italian Association of Dealers (Federauto). Luxury and premium held up much better than the generalist segments.”
“Now is the time to enjoy life”
“There is a lot of money ready to be spent,” said Rolls-Royce boss Torsten Muller-Otvos in an interview with AFP in May 2021. “I was impressed with the number of customers who told us they had understood with Covid , that they could die tomorrow, and that now is the time to enjoy life ”.
In parallel with the health crisis, the global automotive industry is suffering from a shortage of components, especially electronic chips, which prevent the production of vehicles when the order books are full. The crisis has prevented the production of 9.5 to 11 million vehicles worldwide by 2021, according to the company PwC.
In times of lack of components, favorite premium vehicles
On the premium side, BMW recorded a record year with 2.2 million cars sold, mainly in China and the United States. Its arch-enemy Mercedes-Benz saw global sales fall by 5% due to chip shortages, but sales of the AMG sports division and luxury brand Maybach rose sharply.
“Only the most in-demand vehicles are produced,” emphasizes José Baghdad, partner and head of the automotive sector at PwC France and the Maghreb. Premium manufacturers are also ready to buy the components a little more expensive ”.
And the luxury pleasures are not only experienced on four wheels: Italian Ducati motorcycles (from 15,000 euros for the most sporty) also improved their sales record in 2021 with almost 60,000 copies sold worldwide.
The rich got richer with the crisis
“There is a macroeconomic factor: part of the population has become very wealthy in recent years and has the capacity to buy luxury cars and very large luxury cars,” the analyst emphasizes. In the micro-market for ultra-luxury, “these cars have also shown in recent years that they do not lose value, and even that they win”.
SUVs benefit from a global fashion effect, but they are also the most accessible vehicles of these brands. Ferrari, which will announce its results in early February, will also present its first SUV this year, the “Purosangue”.
Electrification increases sales
Another marker for the cars of the 2020s, electrification also ends up affecting luxury, as “a new breath but a real challenge, emphasizes José Baghdad at PwC. One of the interests of these brands was motoring with a special power and sound. By switching to electric makes it harder to distinguish them from each other ”.
At Porsche (which also recorded a record year of exceeding 300,000 vehicles sold, particularly in China and America), the legendary sporty 911 was overtaken by the Taycan electric sedan, which saw its sales double in one year.