Financial crunch will further hurt budget car market

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Domestic sales of luxury cars will not be hammered by the US financial crunch, while the rising loan interest rates and the tighter access to lending will hurt the “volume” car market, Ziarul Financiar daily reports on September 25.Ernest Popovici, chairman of the Association of Automotive Manufacturers and Importers in Romania (APIA), says the Romanian luxury car market should not be affected by the US financial crisis.
 
“It is less than likely that people that buy such cars are influenced by certain US banks’ failures, given that none of these banks have subsidiaries in Romania,” says Enerst Popovici.
In the first eight months, luxury car sales climbed by 4.4% and reached a volume of 306 units, SUVs saw an increase of 14%, to 12,690 cars, while sales of small-class cars dropped by over 11%, to 43,172 units, according to APIA statistical data.
 
Importers say small-class cars will follow the same downward trend until yearend, with the reasons for this being the new lending norms that will come into effect in October.
Viorel Niculescu, general manager of ATT, a Jaguar and Land Rover dealer, who previously held the position as Romcar general manager, believes the collapse of some US financial institutions and the financial crisis will indirectly harm the Romanian market.
 
“Due to rising oil prices, the US market has switched from pick-ups and SUVs to smaller cars, and the same will happen in Romania at a certain point,” states Niculescu.
He says the biggest impact over the car market is generated by the new banking market situation, which will tighten lending conditions and thus complicate the acquisition process not only for houses and cars, but for consumer goods, as well.
 
Adrian Pascu, brand manager for Bentley and Lamborghini with Porsche Romania, the representative of VW-Audi group brands, says people that acquire luxury cars in Romania are not being hurt by the US financial crisis. “Romania’s economy is growing and, according to our forecasts, this will continue in the following years. Most people that acquire expensive cars hold Romanian based businesses and, implicitly, remain unhurt by the US financial crisis,” says the brand manager.
 
According to Pascu, in Romania there are approximately 135 Bentley units.
Another luxury brand, Ferrari, will deliver 14 units this year through Forza Rossa importer, while in Romania there are over 70 units informally imported over previous years.
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