Strong interest in new Merc S-Class
The Business Times
WHAT is half a million dollars in the Singapore context? Apparently it's not that big a deal if you happen to be one of the hundreds of people who have booked the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
Daimler South-east Asia, the distributor of Mercedes-Benz, would not confirm the number, but BT understands that close to 400 orders have been taken for the latest version of its flagship luxury limousine.
Launched to 1,000 guests here yesterday, the three available variants for now - the S350 CDI, S400 Hybrid, S500 - are priced between $450,000 and $600,000 (including COE) approximately.
Interestingly, a surprisingly sizeable number of the higher-end S500 model with a V8 engine have been snapped up - one quarter of all bookings, compared to less than 10 per cent previously.
"This group of customers has seen their wealth grow exponentially because of asset inflation, so $500,000 is not considered a major expense," said one observer. "But not only Singaporeans have benefited; it's a worldwide phenomenon."
However, in Singapore, the price of an S-Class can be almost treble because of the progressive registration-tax structure introduced in February.
And along with the vehicle-financing restrictions implemented at the same time, buyers have to stump up about $250,000 in cash because of the 50 per cent cash downpayment required for cars with an open market value of more than $20,000.
This is unlikely to be a problem for S-Class buyers, who traditionally include owners of small and medium-sized enterprises, and CEOs and the top management of MNCs and other corporations.
"For some of them, the S-Class is a car that they must have because of its branding and status," said the observer. "Its reputation is such that it is the undisputed champ in this segment when it comes to comfort and luxury."