Italian performance car brand Maserati will have a new dealer in Singapore from next month.
After months of speculation, Ferrari agent Ital Auto told The Straits Times yesterday that it will take over the marque from the current Maserati dealer Hong Seh Motors from May 18.
Ital Auto is part of the multi-franchise Komoco group owned by hotelier Ong Beng Seng. Besides Ferrari, it represents brands such as Hyundai, Chrysler and Harley- Davidson.
Komoco group managing director Teo Hock Seng said the previous dealer resigned last November, and "the principal... appointed us".
"We are renovating a workshop on the fourth floor (of its Alexandra Road complex), and that's where Maserati cars will be serviced," Mr Teo said, adding that the marque's showroom will be sited next to its Ferrari showroom.
He also said the company is in the process of ordering cars.
Hong Seh Motors has, meanwhile, sent out letters telling customers that it is exiting the market because of tough conditions.
In the letter, it blames soaring taxes for high-end cars and escalating certificate of entitlement prices. It also said Maserati had insisted on a showroom in the Alexandra-Leng Kee road motor belt, "which is very expensive".
Hong Seh has represented Maserati since 1999, after taking over the brand from Comfort Group, one of the predecessors of transport giant ComfortDelGro Corp.
In 2009, the firm relinquished its Ferrari franchise - which it had held since 1982. Ferrari was also taken over by Ital Auto.
Hong Seh executive director Edward Tan said the family-owned company will now shift its focus to luxury yachts, navy craft and aeroplanes. It will participate in the next aerospace show here.
As for automobiles, Hong Seh will retain its car rental arm.
Maserati, which is part of the Ferrari group, has not responded to e-mailed queries.
Last year, 63 Maserati cars were registered in Singapore, down from 75 in 2015 and an average of 69 in each of the previous 10 years.
Higher taxes on higher-end cars in 2013 have hit the market hard.
For instance, EuroSports Global, which is the agent for Lamborghini, posted a net loss of $4.02 million for the year ended March 31, 2015, reversing a net profit of $17.02 million a year earlier.
According to Ital Auto's financial statements, the company incurred three consecutive years of losses from 2013. For 2015, it reported a net loss of $4.34 million (from a loss of $4.28 million in 2014).
Its cash and equivalents shrank to $522,472, from $4.92 million the year before.