That's okay, he says. As much as Bentley would like all regions to be prosperous, Durheimer says he recognizes they will rise and fall. Expecting "perfect conditions in every market would be foolish," he says.
While luxury buyers often have enough wealth to ride through tougher times, they also are keenly aware they are interested in automotive baubles. "You don't buy a Lamborghini because you need one," said Lamborghini CEO Stephan Winkelmann as he showed off a new, lusterous blue $530,000 supercar Friday at the Quail Motorsports Gathering near here. "It's a dream."
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Lately, the safe haven for luxury automakers has been the U.S. A surging economy, the shale-oil boom, emerging affluence among Millennials and Boomers looking for comfortable retirements, and low gas prices have combined to create a vibrant market for luxury.
"Conditions in the U.S. are as good as they get," says Mike Jackson, CEO of AutoNation, the country's largest auto dealer chain. "I've never seen a period where I can't see a cloud on the horizon."
Instead, he says, the challenge has been getting enough luxury vehicles to be able offer for sale. Americans lately have wanted more luxury SUVs and trucks, among the most profitable vehicles on the dealer's lot. We "can't get enough," and part of the reason has been because automakers were shifting more to China and overseas market. Now, he says, that's changing.
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Some of the automakers who were taking some of their best product overseas are now paying far more attention to their U.S. sales outlets, says Robert DiStanislao, whose RDS Automotive Group sells Porsches, Maseratis and McLarens in greater Philadelphia.
Having been "tempted to take the quick dime instead of the smart nickel," DiStanislao says automakers are becoming more pragmatic about catering to their best customers.