Luxury for less

To get a hot deal for a luxe set of wheels, the best place to shop might be the used car lot where yearold vehicles sell 25-30% cheaper than the original.

By Sanjeev Sinha        Print Edition: July 12, 2007

Loved Anil Ambani’s yellow Lamborghini or is it Big B’s royal Rolls Royce Phantom that you’d rather be driving around town? No, we aren’t encouraging you to take your wishful thinking trip here. Hang in there for a year or two and you might be able to grab one of these cars for yourself, even if you aren’t a member of the uber rich club.

 Also on the menu are the Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, Porsche, Volvo, Volkswagen Touareq, Ferrari, Rolls-Royce, Maybach, Lexus, Bentley, Jaguar, Aston Martin and Range Rover. Actually, you can set your eyes on pretty much any luxury car you care to think of, especially if it has recently been launched in a newer, upgraded avatar.

Because the high net-worth individuals would have gone shopping for the latest model, sending yesterday’s hot wheels to the used car lot. Which is where you come into the picture —what was unattainable till yesterday, is now within reach. Worried about financing? No need to, because banks and finance companies, from ICICI Bank to HDFC Bank to Tata Finance, are more than willing to finance second-hand cars as well.

According to industry sources, prices of such cars crash by almost 25-30% after just one year of use. For instance, Porsche’s Cayenne Turbo, which costs around Rs 94 lakh in brand new condition, is available for Rs 70-75 lakh in the used-car market after one year of its use, while Bentley’s Continental Flying Spur, which costs Rs 1.85 crore, is available for Rs 1.48-1.55 crore. Likewise, the Rs 26 lakh Mercedes C200K can be bought for anything from Rs 20-21 lakh.

According to Ranojoy Mukerji, executive editor of Auto India, “The market is growing fast also because the people who buy these cars want to upgrade fast or simply give some other model a try.” Normally up to 50% of super luxury brand new cars change hands in the used car market just after one year, giving it one of the fastest rates of growth. Currently about 5,000 such cars are sold annually. As per the law, one can claim a depreciation of 16.7% after one year. So first-hand owners don’t mind selling at 25-30% below the original price.

These cars remain in almost brand new condition even after one or two years of use. Most people take better care of luxury cars and, more importantly, some of these machines are rarely driven. Furthermore, the uniqueness of these luxe marquees is that no car is standard. All cars are customised. So you are likely to get several add-on features—intercom system, built-in laptops, fold-in tables, electronic rolling bed, special tyres—in your dream car, without paying what the previous owners shelled out to get them fitted in.

Pre-owned super luxury cars also come with good after-sales services and, more importantly, adequate warranty. For instance, all of them are likely to be thoroughly checked and refitted by their expert dealerships. Each Mercedes-Benz used car comes with a six-month, unlimited mileage warranty, while Bentley and Lamborghini dealer Satya Bagla claims to give up to seven years’ warranty on both new and pre-owned cars.

Owing to their higher price tags, luxe cars depreciate faster in value in the first two years only and after that they usually hold their prices for a few years. Thus, someone who has bought a second-hand car isn’t likely to lose much money if he wishes to change his car in the third or fourth year.

Globally too automakers are offering deals to attract buyers to their showrooms, but a big number of luxury and super-luxury car buyers are reportedly heading to a used car lot, particularly in a bid to look for real bargain. And the deal only gets better with the growing number of options.

However, unlike other segments, the buyer profile in this space (particularly in the used segment) is generally not known as these cars are mostly bought by the people who prefer to stay away from the public eye.

“These are people who have deep pockets but either they have lots of unaccounted money or simply avoid making the full payment in white. So going through the secondhand route is a viable option for them,” says a Delhi-based dealer of luxury cars.

Be warned, however, that the drop in prices is unlikely to be quite as steep in a Mercedes-Benz. “While other luxury cars depreciate fast, that is not the case with Mercedes- Benz, whose prices do not depreciate much in the used car market,” says T.V. Thomas, president, T&T Motors, a dealer of Mercedes-Benz. “That is because of their superior make and after-sales services, among other factors.”

Besides buying directly from the owners, most used car dealers in the bigger cities are a helpful source. They are quick to arrange for your dream machine on demand. So, what’s stopping you? Step on the gas.

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