Wealthy buyers show interest in supercars despite Covid-19 pandemic

Evidence suggests that high-end sports and luxury models fared well in 2020

t Three-Quarter

Despite a downturn across the car industry during the Covid-19 pandemic, there were signs the luxury and sports car sector fared comparatively better in 2020.

One dealer of top-level cars said there had been an increase in the sale of used cars as wealthy buyers prevented from taking expensive holidays in exotic locations looked to spend their money elsewhere.

There was also evidence that some supercars dropped in value, which helped prop up purchases.

The UK’s Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said that overall, new car registrations dropped nearly 30 per cent in 2020, while those in the specialist sports car category rose by seven per cent.

The class saw 47,200 units registered, accounting for 2.9 per cent of all car registrations in 2020.

HR Owen, a leading seller of luxury supercars including Aston Martin, Bentley, Bugatti, Ferrari, Lamborghini and Rolls-Royce, experienced a sharp rise in used-car purchases.

"We saw a significant increase in the sale of used cars in the region of not more than £150,000 [$205,000]," HR Owens' chief executive Ken Choo told the Financial Times. "People said: 'I cannot travel to the Bahamas so I will buy a used Ferrari or Lambo instead'."

It comes after a bumper 2019 when supercar sales rose in the UK despite concerns about the economy and Brexit.

Bentley bucked the industry trend and reported a record year in 2020 sales despite the pandemic. Lamborghini saw deliveries fall by nine per cent to 7,430 cars in 2020, but this was blamed partly on a 70-day shutdown of its factories during the first wave of Covid-19 and its sales rebounded in the second half of the year.

Last year also included a rise in interest in electric and hybrid cars.

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Mike Hawes, the Society's chief executive, said last month that carmakers are bringing a record number of electric vehicles to the market for next year. He said with Covid-19 vaccines now taking hold and more clarity over Brexit, industry leaders were hopeful of a better year all-round.

“2020 will be seen as a ‘lost year’ for automotive, with the sector under pandemic-enforced shutdown for much of the year and uncertainty over future trading conditions taking their toll,” he said.