Singapore has injected nitrous into its reputation as a playground for the superrich after a local used-car dealer launched a "vending machine" with 60 luxury cars, including Bentleys, Ferraris and Lamborghinis, on offer. Used car seller Autobahn Motors opened a 15-story showroom in December in a futuristic looking building, dubbing it the "world's largest luxury car vending machine," according to Reuters, which interviewed Gary Hong, the company's general manager.
A view of the Autobahn building, located at 11 Jalan Bukit Merah, from August 2016, can be found on Google Maps. While the view predates the showrooms official opening, much of the inventory can be seen from the street.
Potential customers use a touchscreen to pick the car they wish to see; the selected car then arrives within minutes.
Speaking to Reuters, the general manager at Authobahh, Gary Hong, said the vending machine format was aimed at "making efficient use of space in land-scarce Singapore as well as standing out from the competition. We needed to meet our requirement of storing a lot of cars. At the same time, we wanted to be creative and innovative."
Better yet, Gary's idea appears to be a hit: since its launch, Autobahn has been approached by developers who'd like to use the concept for parking services in the densely populated city-state, Hong told Reuters.
That said, the concept isn't unique to Singapore: in March, the U.S.-based firm Carvana opened a similar structure in San Antonio that can hold up to 30 cars.
So with the supply "issue" taken care of, what about demand? Here things are a little shakier.
Singapore's economy has been on a roller-coaster in recent months, crashing in the third quarter before surging over 9% in Q4 -the fastest pace of growth since 2012 - before it again contracted by 1.9% in Q1. Economists polled by the Singapore Monetary Authority, the city-state's central bank, in March raised their forecasts for 2017 GDP to grow 2.3% in 2017, up from the 1.5% estimated in the previous survey published in December. But the rising optimism has yet to be reflected in the SMA's policy outlook; in April, the central bank left its guidance unchanged, saying a "neutral" stance will be needed for an extended period of time.
Meanwhile, the real driver behind the economy emerged on Monday, when private-home sales more than doubled in April from the same period a year earlier. In short, the local asset bubble - a function of the much bigger bubble over in China - is back. The good news, at least for Gary, is that he will likely have quite a few clients to satisfy for the foreseeable future.