There is great news for lovers of fast cars across the country- Ferrari, the iconic auto brand from Italy, is all set to launch its fastest set of wheels in India in the first half of the current year. No, this is not a cruel joke, it really is great news. Sure, the chances of your owning a Ferrari may be as high as my being on Katrina Kaif’s facebook friend list, but that’s no reason not to look forward to the impending arrival of arguably the most stylish set of wheels to have ever graced Indian roads. As the ancient Sanskrit saying goes, beautiful women and fast cars are best admired from a safe distance (ok, that’s not really a saying, I just say that to make myself feel better).
Once you have stopped feeling sorry for yourself, you would do well to take a closer look at what Ferrari actually has to offer. The company plans to launch several of its top international models, including California, 458 Italia, 599 and 612 in the coming six months- any one of those could be yours for a not so tidy sum of Rs.1.5 Cr plus. So what is it that brings the Italian giant to Indian shores? Well, in case you didn’t notice, while mere mortals like us were busy eking out a living through hard work and toil, our fellow countrymen were busy becoming millionaires by the dozen-no, make that by the thousands. Apparently, the resurgent Indian economy has helped nearly 42,700 Indians regain their status as dollar millionaires in the last one year, taking their total number to 127600, as per a recent report by Cap Gemini and Merrill Lynch. This makes India the second fastest millionaire-producing country in the whole of Asia-Pacific, next only to Hong Kong. Clearly, with such figures at hand, it would take a lot to prevent any leading luxury brand from deciding to set up shop in the Indian market. Already, Ferrari’s client list in the country looks like a who’s who of Indian glitterati- Tata Motors chairman Ratan Tata owns one, Sachin Tendulkar has a 360 Modena, liquor baron Vijay Mallya has one too while I myself happen to own- well, nothing at all (though there is this nice auto-wala who insists that I treat his auto as my own).
But good looks and fast wheels aside, it’s going to be no walk in the park for the Italian carmaker. The Indian luxury automobile market is currently dominated by the Germans- Audi’s A6, Mercedes Benz’s E- Class and BMW’s 3 series models have registered an astounding 100% growth from last year, with 2010 marking the most successful year yet for Audi- the luxury brand of Europe’s largest car-maker, Volkswagen. Breaking their stranglehold on the Indian psyche is going to take some special doing. What may make it even more difficult is the fact that Ferrari, part of the Fiat group, has chosen not to make use of the latter’s alliance with the Tatas and will instead rely on the direct import route to introduce Indians to its stable of four-legged wonders.
Irrespective of German competition, however, with the Indian economy seemingly on an irreversible growth path, Ferrari is bound to find a ready base of eager customers, with demand for luxury cars also driven by a young pack of ambitious entrepreneurs and executives who are more than eager to not only spend, but also flaunt their new found wealth.
Sadly, that leaves me with little to flaunt of my own. I will just have to content myself with stealing envious glances at the Italian beauties and dream of the day I myself will be driving one of them. Don’t know why, but Katrina’s facebook list seems a safer bet.