A spring in the step of the Prancing Horse

Ferrari goes from strength to strength

The UK may have entered a double dip recession but that doesn’t seem to have impeded the spring in the step of the Prancing Horse.

While the rest of us are counting the pennies and praying the motor gets through its next MoT, luxury car brand Ferrari goes from strength to strength.

Perhaps the super rich, put off philanthropy by the Government’s tax shenanigans, have decided to splash out on 200 grand sports cars instead.

Ferrari grew UK sales by 31 per cent in the first quarter of the year with 177 models delivered to customers. This performance outstripped encouraging results in other markets, which saw sales rise 16 per cent in the USA, 24 per cent in Germany and 23 per cent in the Middle East.

Overall, revenues were up 13 per cent to 556m Euro with net profit leaping 17 per cent to 42m Euro.

Ferrari said the success resulted from enthusiasm for the 12-cylinder FF, the continuing popularity of the 8-cylinder California, its top selling GT, and demand for the coupe and spider versions of the 458 sports car. Ferrari pointed out that the F12 Berlinetta, its most powerful ever model and the first in a new generation of V12s made no contribution to the first quarter results as deliveries do not start until the second half of the year.

In its native Italy however, the Fiat-owned marque suffered a downturn, selling 121 cars – a drop of 34 per cent compared to thefirst quarter of 2011.

Ferrari blamed this on the economic situation and "the local government’s recent financial initiatives". A clampdown on tax fraud coupled with a hike in car taxes have curbed the traditional Italian enthusiasm for high performance sports cars.

Ferrari has expanded its retail network in the UK with prestige car dealers JCT600 and HR Owen opening new showrooms this year.

James Dallas is deputy editor of What Van?

Photograph: Getty Images

James Dallas is deputy editor of What Van?

Getty Images.
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Theresa May defies the right by maintaining 0.7% aid pledge

The Prime Minister offers rare continuity with David Cameron but vows to re-examine how the money is spent. 

From the moment Theresa May became Prime Minister, there was speculation that she would abandon the UK's 0.7 per cent aid pledge. She appointed Priti Patel, a previous opponent of the target, as International Development Secretary and repeatedly refused to extend the commitment beyond this parliament. When an early general election was called, the assumption was that 0.7 per cent would not make the manifesto.

But at a campaign event in her Maidenhead constituency, May announced that it would. "Let’s be clear – the 0.7 per cent commitment remains, and will remain," she said in response to a question from the Daily Telegraph's Kate McCann. But she added: "What we need to do, though, is to look at how that money will be spent, and make sure that we are able to spend that money in the most effective way." May has left open the possibility that the UK could abandon the OECD definition of aid and potentially reclassify defence spending for this purpose.

Yet by maintaining the 0.7 per cent pledge, May has faced down her party's right and title such as the Sun and the Daily Mail. On grammar schools, climate change and Brexit, Tory MPs have cheered the Prime Minister's stances but she has now upheld a key component of David Cameron's legacy. George Osborne was one of the first to praise May's decision, tweeting: "Recommitment to 0.7% aid target very welcome. Morally right, strengthens UK influence & was key to creating modern compassionate Conservatives".

A Conservative aide told me that the announcement reflected May's personal commitment to international development, pointing to her recent speech to International Development staff. 

But another Cameron-era target - the state pension "triple lock" - appears less secure. Asked whether the government would continue to raise pensions every year, May pointed to the Tories' record, rather than making any future commitment. The triple lock, which ensures pensions rise in line with average earnings, CPI inflation or by 2.5 per cent (whichever is highest), has long been regarded by some Conservatives as unaffordable. 

Meanwhile, Philip Hammond has hinted that the Tories' "tax lock", which bars increases in income tax, VAT and National Insurance, could be similarly dropped. He said: "I’m a Conservative. I have no ideological desire to to raise taxes. But we need to manage the economy sensibly and sustainably. We need to get the fiscal accounts back into shape.

"It was self evidently clear that the commitments that were made in the 2015 manifesto did and do today constrain the ability to manage the economy flexibly."

May's short speech to workers at a GlaxoSmithKline factory was most notable for her emphasis that "the result is not certain" (the same message delivered by Jeremy Corbyn yesterday). As I reported on Wednesday, the Tories fear that the belief that Labour cannot win could reduce their lead as voters conclude there is no need to turn out. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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