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Ultra Luxury Models Rolling Despite Slow Market

Porsche Panamera
Source: porsche.com
Porsche Panamera

Conventional wisdom says the very well off go through recessions with little or no impact. The belief being they have billions, if not tens of millions of dollars so when the economy tanks, the value of their portfolio may shrink, but they will still lead a charmed life. That thinking explains why the ultra luxury auto market generally withstands recessions better than the mass market.

This fall, conventional wisdom will be tested. There are a slew of new models either hitting showrooms or being introduced for hitting the street next year. Whether it's the new Porsche Panamera, the company's first four door sedan, or Jaguar's new XJ, there is no shortage of new high end rides to choose from. Meanwhile, with the Frankfurt Auto Show coming up, there will be new copies introduced by Lamborghini, among others.

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With all this activity, you'd think the ultra luxury market is doing well, or at least holding up better than the lower end of the luxury car market. It's not. In fact, upper end auto sales are down more than 50 % this year, according to Autodata. Compare that with mid-level luxury autos dropping 32% and entry level falling 28%. Seems even the rich in the U.S. have decided to pull back as well.

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So why are these guys still so active, and continuing to crank out new models?

Part of this is because the new model plans were put in place a few years back, when few expected this recession to be this deep. But more importantly for the Bentley's, Ferrari's, and Aston Martin's or the world, sales in China, India, and other growing markets around the world continue to move higher.

The ultra luxury competition is truly global, and it's become far more intense.

As a result, these guys need to keep cranking out new models.

So this fall, as the mass market auto company's slowly cut losses and work their way back towards profitability, watch the ultra luxury market to see one of the more entertaining battles in the auto industry.

To see who will have the high end ride that will become the "it" car for the wealthy in the years to come.

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Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com

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