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Ferrari increases customer focus

To a T: The California T has been a popular model in Australia after bringing the entry-point to Ferrari down to about $410,000 plus on-roads.

SUVs out, but customer experience the new focus for Ferrari Australasia

31 Mar 2016

FERRARI Australasia will focus on improved customer relations ahead of continued volume growth as buyers back the iconic sportscar-maker's rejection of an SUV.

In Melbourne for the 2016 Australian Formula One Grand Prix, Ferrari Far East Hub CEO Dieter Knechtel told GoAuto that Australia has “untapped” potential for reasons beyond increased sales.

“There is a very strong potential and the potential (in Australia) I believe is still untapped,” Mr Knechtel said.

“There is quite a lot more that we could do and … new-car sales growth cannot be endless (but) we also like to talk about growth with our relationship with customers and the ownership experience that we offer,” he added.

Mr Knechtel pointed to work Ferrari Australasia commenced with the brand’s community-run car clubs across the country, which included corporate suite support at the 2016 Australian Grand Prix.

Mr Knechtel and Ferrari Australasia president and CEO Herbert Appleroth were present at this year’s local Formula One race, having contributed to the organisation of 50 new and old Ferrari models to drive two laps of the Albert Park circuit ahead of Saturday qualifying.

“Today is a very good example of that (ownership experience focus), the experience to drive in the Ferrari Cavalcade just ahead of the F1,” Mr Knechtel said.

The Singapore-based head of markets such as Japan and South Korea is aware that last year about 60 per cent of Australian buyers were new to Ferrari, and there is a need to create loyalty among these first-time purchasers.

Mr Knechtel mostly credits the California T that was introduced last year and lowered the entry point to the brand by $50,000 – from $459,650 for the 4.3-litre V8 California to $409,888 for its 3.9-litre turbocharged V8 California T replacement.

“California T was definitely a success in our region,” he said.

“It has helped in regions where we are reaching out for first-time buyers of Ferrari and people who haven’t thought about buying a Ferrari previously and haven’t always thought about a car with a sports profile but want to use the car on a daily basis.”

Although he stressed that there is a need to balance popularity with exclusivity, the door has been left open to further lowering the entry point to Ferrari ownership, though not in the short term.

“In the long term we will see what the company will do,” Mr Knechtel said before explaining that another GT Ferrari model is confirmed, hinting that it could fulfill an entry-level role.

“There will also be another model after the California in the GT segment coming, so…,” he added.

The indication plays to rumours of a revived Dino, which would be targeted as an entry-level mid-engined coupe possibly using a version of the twin-turbocharged V6 engine Ferrari currently produces for Alfa Romeo and Maserati.

Although Ferrari will introduce another GT model with the likely aim of securing more first-time buyers, Mr Knechtel indicated there are boundaries to model growth. Customers have, for example, backed the brand’s rejection of a potentially volume-boosting SUV model.

“When the question comes up (about a Ferrari SUV) it is more about people being concerned about that because I don’t think that Ferrari customers that we have would be so positive towards such a concept,” he said.

“It would probably be a game-changer for the brand which not many people would like to see, so I think SUV for Ferrari is not what we are standing for.

“We are still defined as a sports car brand and reaching out to those profiles.”

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