Los Angeles is known for its supercar culture; the streets of Beverly Hills are drenched with Lamborghinis and Ferraris. Further south, we also have Cars and Coffee in Irvine, and the ever-impressive Supercar Sunday. But despite living in a city with such a vibrant car culture, my holiday trips back to Taiwan always manage to impress me.
There is a 100% tax on all vehicles in Taiwan, so supercars and exotics are definitely much costlier to obtain. In recent years, however, there has been an influx of demand for high end cars which seems counter to the stagnant economy. The sales of Ferrari and Maserati (Modena Motori Taiwan) has increased throughout the past few years, and Mclaren has also stepped onto the scene early last year. 20 McLarens were said to have been allocated to Taiwan last year, and during winter break, I saw at least 3 cruising around the streets of Taipei. In addition to the more common exotics, boutique manufacturers like Morgan and Spyker are also establishing distributors.
When supercars first became popular, there were no authorized distributors for many of the big brands. Supercars were imported mainly secondhand from the US and sold by private companies. The Gama company was one of the biggest private importers in Taiwan. Their CEO, Mr. Zhao, imported cars ranging from relatively pedestrian Porsche GT3′s and the Lamborghini Murcielago LP670-SV to multi-million dollar cars like the CLK GTR and Ferrari FXX. When demand for these exotics dramatically increased, exclusive distributors began to emerge. Mr Zhao is now the exclusive distributor of Lotus and Lamborghini in Taiwan. Another company, Yun San, is the exclusive distributor of Bentley, Mclaren and Aston Martin. The supercar business in Taiwan has become an oligarchy of sorts, with a few key players holding exclusive distributive rights.
The Taipei Auto show this year also surprised me quite a bit. In previous years, the manufactures that showed up were never as extensive as this year. Brands like Ferrari, Maserati, Mclaren, Bentley, Aston Martin, and Spyker were all new to the auto show. The individual models that they brought did not fail to impress as well. Maserati and Ferrari brought in the new Ghibli, Quattroporte, and the F12; topping it off with the 458 Speciale. Aston showed up with the Vanquish and the new DB9. The rest of the highlights included the Bentley Flying Spur and the new Porsche GT3. In addition, Mustang is making a return after years of inadequate demand. None of these are cars we haven’t seen before from the LA auto show or other more renowned car shows, but I’m simply amazed at the level of growth that Taiwan has experienced in the high end car industry. For this reason, the show this year saw an unprecedented amount of attendance.
Taiwan is probably not the first place that you think of when talking exotics or super cars. But its definitely growing tremendously. Even with 100% tax rate on all cars, I believe that we will see more and more eye candy rolling around the streets of Taiwan. And that makes me a very happy camper.