A Latvian automaker has introduced an SUV for Chinese drivers that takes luxury to a new level.
Among Dartz Motorz Co.’s Prombron Black Shark’s more opulent features are a Bang & Olufsen A/S (BO) sound system and exotic interiors of elephant, ostrich, or shark skin. The vehicle also offers considerable protection for celebrity drivers, including crowd-suppression lasers, armor plating, and electrified door handles to ward off the paparazzi. Chinese drivers will also be able to customize their cars with such added features as an imperial gold color scheme and traditional lettering. With a price tag of over $1 million, the 1,500 horsepower car appeals to affluent consumers who “want something no one else has,” according to Leonard Yankelovich, Dartz’s founder.
“Chinese like big cars and they like expensive cars,” Yankelovich said in an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek. “They also want to show their wealth and their uniqueness.”
Despite President Xi Jinping’s crackdown on extravagant spending, displays of wealth remain commonplace in China. While mid-range luxury companies, such as Remy Cointreau SA and Prada SpA, have suffered in the wake of the government’s austerity push, the market for China’s upper echelon “shows no signs of slowing.”
The Boston Consulting Group reports that there were close to one million people became millionaires in China last year. This means that the market for luxury cars is growing; more consumers can afford to drive models like Volkswagen AG’s Bugatti Veyron, which retails for a minimum $1.85 million and is considered the world’s fastest production car.
The sales of SUVs in particular are on the rise in the Chinese market. Sport utility sales increased by 33 percent during the first nine months of the year and by 37 percent in October from a year earlier. This trend continues in spite of the weak growth the entire Chinese automobile market has experienced this year; at an estimated 4.6 percent, experts believe China will have experienced weaker growth in 2014 than it has since 1990.
According to Deborah Aitken, a London-based luxury goods analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, the demand for exceptional products shows a sophistication of taste among affluent Chinese consumers.
“The luxury brands are saying things have definitely slowed in terms of growth but what they’re selling is much more high end and less about logos,” Aitken explained. “It’s moved more toward innate objects that only a true professional would know the value of.”
Yankelovich notes that the Black Shark’s practicality will be a draw for consumers.
“It’s not so convenient to drive a Bugatti,” he said. “It’s not easy to sit down in or get out of, that’s the same with any sports car. It’s more than practical because it’s bespoke. We make it special for the customer.”
image credit: dartz.us