Ferrari 458 Spider.
Ferrari looks set to become a direct importer into Australia.
Friends and fans of Ferrari will soon have a direct line from Australia to the supercar maker's headquarters in Italy. The expanding network of full Ferrari factory operations is expected to reach down under during 2013, ending the traditional link through an independent importer.
The move comes as Ferrari sales continue to boom in Australia and with the impending arrival of a new supercar flagship, codenamed F150 and the replacement for the Enzo road rocket.
But the move will not affect Maserati, even though the two Italian brands are currently handled in Australia by the same company, European Automotive Imports. Ferrari denies any plans for a distribution change despite a recent visit by the company's Asia-Pacific boss, Herbert Appleroth, while the head of EAI is predictably guarded.
Neville Crichton, who is also the trump at Ateco Automotive, refuses to discuss any Ferrari change despite strengthening rumours. "No comment," Crichton tells Carsguide.
But both sides admit there is scope for improvement and change. "There's a lot of growth to be had in Australia," Appleroth reveals to Carsguide.
The Sydney native is hugely experienced in the sports car business and worked for the previous Ferrari importer, the Sutton Group in Sydney, before Crichton won the franchise. He moved to Maserati in Italy before sliding across to Ferrari, where he now heads the factory operation in Japan as well as handling the Asian region.
Although Crichton refuses to talk about a distribution change, he admits a Ferrari switch is inevitable. "At some stage, for sure, they'll do it. Eventually Ferrari will want to come and do their own thing," says Crichton.
The Italian brand is powering through Asia and, in contrast to the European car sales collapse this year. Japanese sales have jumped by 20 per cent and Chinese deliveries are also up by seven per cent, even though the USA is still the biggest market for the brand Ferrari is heading for a solid profit in 2012 and is credited with more than $1 billion in cash reserves.
On the Maserati front, EAI looks solid after a recent commitment from Italy that covers the company's massive product overhaul. It is just about to begin production of an all-new Quattroporte and has three other high-profile models to follow, including its first SUV.
"Maserati's position in Australia and New Zealand has been transformed over the past seven years with EAI lifting customer service to new levels of excellence, growing sales and developing the brand's awareness and public perception to previously unseen levels," says Gaetano Marino, the Asia-Pacific regional director for Maserati.
"This provides the ideal foundation to launch Maserati's new models over the next few years and we look forward to working hand-in-hand with EAI."