A crackdown on luxury goods combined with budget cuts that have pushed Italy deeper into its fourth recession since 2001 are souring demand for sporty cars and other symbols of the country’s carefree lifestyle. The number of secondhand high- performance cars exported from Italy nearly tripled to 13,633 vehicles in the first five months of 2012, from 4,923 a year earlier, according to auto industry group Unrae.
“Italy is one of the strongholds of supercars, and those vehicles are now disappearing from the streets,” said Giuliano Noci, associate dean of Milan Polytechnic’s business school. “This has a huge symbolic value and shows how deep the crisis is.”
The exodus reflects weaker overall demand for supercars in the home of Ferrari and Maserati, Fiat SpA (F)’s most profitable brands. Sales of super-luxury cars in Italy are forecast to plunge 47 percent to 593 vehicles this year from 1,116 in 2008, according to IHS Automotive, which predicts that sales won’t return to pre-crisis levels before 2016.It's an easier law-enforcement gig than most;
...supercar-owners are being scrutinized in efforts to flush out tax evaders. Since December 2011, Italian authorities have conducted dozens of raids in wealthy areas, including the ski resort Cortina d’Ampezzo and Portofino on the Riviera. The officials stop supercars to check whether their owners declared sufficient income -- and paid enough taxes -- to support their lifestyles.
Near Venice last month, financial police arrested a 44- year-old man driving a Ferrari F40 for not paying 8 million euros in taxes since 2006. In a July sweep in the northern town of Bergamo, police found that the driver of a 200,000-euro Ferrari F131 had evaded 3 million euros in taxes since 2007.
“Many Ferrari owners want to get rid of their supercars after the financial police came to one of our events near Rome and checked every driver,” said Fabio Barone, who heads the Ferrari owners’ club Passione Rossa. One of the members put a Ferrari 458 up for sale for 143,000 euros after buying it for 224,000 euros last year, he said.