Luxury carmakers are heading off-road at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Tempted by big profit margins in the high-end SUV market, Bentley, Maserati and a new brand called Eterniti are all looking to harness demand in Asia.
Platinum or emeralds on your dashboard? With the new ultra-luxury Eterniti Hemera SUV, drivers with a taste for the finer things in life may request whatever their imaginations desire.
London-based Eterniti debuted both its brand and its first fully engineered Hemera SUV prototype at the biennial auto show in Frankfurt.
1946 Jeep Willys UniversalOnce a military tool, off-roaders have become toys for the rich and famousFocused on the high-end SUV segment, Eterniti gives customers the option of requesting a broad range of custom materials and alterations to the Hemera's base model.
Funded by a group of private investors, Eterniti is the latest brand aiming to tap into growing demand for luxury SUVs in emerging markets.
"We're seeing a strong growth trend in this segment," said Henner Lehne, the forecast director at IHS Automotive in Frankfurt. He expects SUV sales in Asia to increase by 56 percent by 2017.
The Hemera was specifically designed with Asian customers in mind. Eterniti says the car is based on "the most dynamic version of VW Group's latest-generation large SUV platform," otherwise known as the Porsche Cayenne.
The cabin is to be re-engineered to give passengers sitting in the back of the vehicle an additional 100 millimeters (almost 4 inches) of legroom. The two rear seats, separated by a central console, will be fitted with matching iPad tablet computers.
"In China, customers want both the option of being chauffeured and driving themselves," said Eterniti's brand and communications head, Mark Carbery. "The additional legroom satisfies this demand."
With an estimated base price of 170,000 euros ($235,000) - more than double the price of a Cayenne Turbo - the Hemera will feature that car's 4.8-liter twin-turbo V8 engine. Eterniti does, however, plan to tweak the motor to produce over 620 horsepower and a top speed of around 290 kilometers per hour (180mph).
While Eterniti acknowledges that its Hemera cannot compete with the likes of well-established brands in terms of sales volume, it will bring its product to the market quickly, producing a projected 30 units in 2012 and 100 vehicles in 2013.