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updated: 5/28/2013 10:24 AM

Mclaren forecasts Asia sales to double this year on China demand

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McLaren Automotive Ltd., maker of the P1 supercar that costs about $1 million, forecast sales in Asia will more than double this year on demand from China.

While overall deliveries will be little changed this year, Asia's portion of the global total will jump to 25 percent from 10 percent in 2012, Mirko Bordiga, Asia Pacific regional director of the Woking, U.K.-based carmaker, said in an interview in Tokyo yesterday. McLaren plans to sell 1,400 units worldwide in 2013, he said.

McLaren, which began selling road cars in 2011, plans to open its first four dealerships in China this year and add four more by the first half of 2014. Luxury car sales in China will probably surpass those in the U.S. as soon as 2016, according to McKinsey & Co. estimates.

"This year, we will finally see sales from China," said Bordiga, who was in Tokyo to introduce the P1 in Japan. "We are waiting for the official documents to start the company."

The Chinese government, as part of a campaign against extravagant spending, is considering imposing a 20 percent consumption tax on ultra-luxury vehicles that cost more 1.7 million yuan ($278,000), the Nanfang Daily reported last week. The story cited an official from a German luxury automaker it didn't identify.

Potential additional taxes on luxury vehicles would likely only affect McLaren Chinese sales in the short term, according to Bordiga.

Japanese Demand

"We will have to wait and see if and how they will apply the regulation, and then decide what to do," said Bordiga. "It won't have a big impact in the long term."

Ultra-luxury cars from manufacturers such as Ferrari SpA and Volkswagen AG's Lamborghini would be most affected by such a policy, Haitong International Securities Co. analyst Liang Yonghuo wrote in a note yesterday. Total 2013 sales of such vehicles in China are expected to be 4,000 to 5,000 units, according to Liang's estimates.

In Japan, where Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda are using monetary stimulus and fiscal spending in an attempt to revive the world's third-largest economy, Bordiga said he expected rising demand.

"We expect sales will pick up," said Bordiga. "We have been lucky that Abenomics is starting to have some positive effect."

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