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Ferrari targets Korean wealth, casts eye on Vietnam

Ferrari SpA said it expects South Korea’s economic growth to make the country a standout for sports car demand, and Vietnam may be next.

“A surprise over the next five years will be South Korea,” Herbert Appleroth, Ferrari’s Asia Pacific chief executive officer, said in an interview. “It has an abundance of wealth and economic prosperity, and there is appreciation for supercars. I think you will see very strong growth.”

Appleroth’s projections point to the next pockets of growth for luxury carmakers as U.S. and European markets mature. Vietnam increased the number of high net-worth individuals by 33 percent in 2010, according to the World Wealth Report from Bank of America Corp.’s Merrill Lynch and Capgemini SA.

“The next on the radar in this region that I look after will be Vietnam,” he said. Appleroth oversees 17 dealerships in Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, New Zealand, Australia and, as of last month, one in the Philippines.

South Korea’s economy will probably grow 3.5 percent this year, with 4.2 percent forecast for the next year, according to Bank of Korea estimates.

Ferrari increased its market share in Japan to 58 percent in the category for the first three months of 2012, compared with a 54 percent share for 2011, Appleroth said. Ferrari sold 386 cars last year, almost four times Lamborghini SpA’s 99, according to the Japan Automobile Dealers Association.

Ferrari’s global deliveries rose by 9.5 percent to a record 7,195 cars last year led by record sales in the U.S. and China. Sales climbed to 777 cars across China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, rising 63 percent. Mainland China accounted for 500 of those.

Japan orders will probably grow about 10 percent in 2012 and maintain that pace over the next five years, Appleroth said. Deliveries will average about 400 as the Fiat SpA unit tends to supply dealers with fewer cars than they can sell.

A 350-square meter showroom opens today in Osaka’s main business district as the first Ferrari dealership in the world to feature the corporate identity update, Appleroth said. The new design uses more of the carmaker’s trademark red, he said.

Japan hasn’t lost its taste for luxury and exclusivity, something Ferrari can provide with its new tailor-made program, Appleroth said.

“We have customers more and more who want to tailor their cars,” he said. “They spend on average in Japan around 45,000 euros ($59,000) per car on tailored options. From that, we have growing revenue.”