Bouncing back from the GFC and poised to turn downward again as a surging Australian dollar threatens to push up interest rates, Australia has become a nation of widening gaps between the haves and have nots.
Witness the strength of the luxury car market. In Maserati's case, Australia has recorded sales increases of almost double previous years. Spokesman for Australian importers, Ateco Automotive, Edward Rowe, says the GranTurismo coupe models doubled sales in 2011 year-to-date compared with the same period in 2010.
"The Quattroporte is up 90 per cent in the same period and order books are getting longer,'' he says.
"The currency rate, which favours importers, means we have added a lot more equipment to the models to make them more attractive. The GranCabrio, for example, has more luxury features and equipment than before.''
Australians who can afford to consider a Maserati are also more likely to buy a sports derivative rather than the more luxurious models. The launch of the GranCabrio Sport - the more sporty version of the existing convertible - is set down for December in Australia with a sub-$350,000 price tag.
"We expect to sell in 2011 calendar year 40 Quattroportes, 90 GranTurismos and 35 GranCabrios - not including the Sport model which, as is expected, will be registered in the 2012 year,'' he says.
"But we are aware of the potential for the global economy - and that of Australia - to tighten in 2012 so our estimates for these models will be similar next year.''
Buyers for the GranCabrio Sport are expected to come from BMW 6-Series and Mercedes-Benz coupe models.
"It's an exclusive market and Maserati is doing well because of its exclusivity and especially the breadth of the customisation available on the cars.''