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Lamborghini signals luxury shift from China to U.S., Japan

[4th Oct, 2013]
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After years of profiting from China\'s appetite for high-priced toys, makers of hyper-luxury cars are shifting their focus back to more traditional markets such as the U.S. and Japan.

\"The U.S. is really getting back on track and getting more important for us,\" Lamborghini SpA Chief Executive Officer Stephan Winkelmann said in an interview in Tokyo. In China, \"there is a slowdown in high-end luxury,\" he said.

U.S. demand for Lamborghini\'s $400,000-plus Aventador flagship is growing at a pace reminiscent of the years before the 2008 global financial crisis, Winkelmann said. And as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe kick-starts the economy, Japan also stands out, he said.

Concerns over China, echoed by Fiat SpA (F)\'s Ferrari and Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW)\'s Rolls-Royce since last year, show how the country is no longer the driver of growth it was three years ago when it pulled the world out of recession. A slowing economy and a government push against lavish spending have undermined sales of luxury goods ranging from supercars to Prada bags and Bordeaux wines.

\"Luxury carmakers are suffering, and a lot of high-class restaurants that serve expensive dinners are suffering too,\" said Andreas Graef, a consultant at A.T. Kearney in Shanghai. \"Clearly China\'s millionaires and billionaires are more cautious of how they show off their wealth, from expensive watches to expensive liquors.\"