Huge new building debuts a bonded warehouse for supercar collectors, new Lotus and Alpine showrooms. Plus: Electric Rimac C_Two hypercar debuts
As far as home extensions go, this has got to be one of the biggest. Say hello to the Wearnes Automotive Centre, a new eight-storey, 200,000 square foot facility located behind the existing showrooms at 45 Leng Kee Road.
“We wanted to have all our brands, and services close at hand in a central location, for the convenience of customers,” said Mr Andre Roy, CEO of Wearnes Automotive.
Built at a cost of S$30 million, the new building has a multitude of uses that allow Wearnes to greatly expand its operations here. Three floors of workshop space has added 60 workbays, doubling Wearnes’ total workshop capacity, and includes provisions for a more electric vehicle-intensive (EV) future, such as EV charging, storage, and battery repairs.
As you can see from the pictures, the building is also something of a massive car display case, with cut-outs across five floors that allow cars to be showcased to passersby. Behind these windows are boutique showrooms spaces, perfect for brands with small product lineups for which a traditional full showroom facility would be an uneconomical use of resources.
French sportscar maker Alpine, as well as British sportscar maker Lotus (which only came into the Wearnes Automotive fold in July) are the first two brands to occupy these boutique spaces. Incidentally, Lotus revealed at the event the pricing for its two models on sale here, the Elise 220 Sport (S$210,000 without COE) and Exige 350 Sport (S$300,000 without COE).
In addition to selling cars to you, Wearnes is also happy to keep your car for you, as the new building also houses a bonded storage area, which according to Mr Roy, kills two birds with one stone.
“One of the problems for supercar owners is that they don’t have enough room to store their collection. Previously, what we were doing was keeping these cars, some of the most beautiful cars in the world, stuffed away in various corners and facilities, and we weren’t doing them justice,” explained Mr Roy. “I also found that we didn’t have a place for people just to hang out. We have a lot of showrooms, but when multiple brands and people are involved, we didn’t have a place to hang out and enjoy their cars.”
The solution is a members’ lounge area on the building’s upper floors, replete with bar, private dining facilities, conference rooms, and even a cigar bar, which overlooks the museum-like storage area.
The gallery itself is claimed by Wearnes to be the country’s first and only climate and humidity-controlled car storage gallery, and is also bonded, which means rare, classic, and left-hand drive cars (the latter of which normally cannot be used on Singapore roads) can be kept there duty-free. Currently there is space to store 40 cars, and the storage fee is S$1,200 per month, sans insurance.
From a business perspective, S$1,200 isn’t much – CarBuyer understands the bonded area can expand to fit 80 vehicles, if needed, but even then that isn’t a huge money-spinner for Wearnes.
“Honestly we aren’t doing this for the revenue only,” Mr Victor Kwan, the head of the Wearnes Prestige division told CarBuyer. “Wearnes wishes to position itself as the go-to place for individuals who are interested in these kinds of automobiles.”
That also begs the question: Can’t a prospecting hypercar owner simply buy a car, tax-free, and keep it in his living room? The answer is : Probably not.
CarBuyer understands the Land Transport Authority (LTA) is very unlikely to grant permission in that sort of situation, as opposed to a bonded facility run by a reputable automotive distributorship.
Mr Kwan explained that there’s considerable regulation and accountability expected as well: “For instance, if the LTA asks – at any time – where a particular vehicle is, we have to be able to tell them right away.”
Among the exotic machinery we saw in the gallery were three Bugatti Chirons, a Porsche 918 Spyder, a Jaguar F-Type Project 7, and an Aston Martin Vantage GT8, all of which are either left-hand drive or not road-registered here. There was even an Aston Martin DB4 GT and a Jaguar E-Type Lightweight, both of which are classic racing cars and are not road-legal anywhere in the world.
The highlight that Wearnes was keen to share though, was a 1926 Rolls-Royce (below) that was sold by Wearnes subsidiary Malayan Motors to a plantation owner in Selangor, Malaysia, the oldest car they know of that has now “come home” to the company.
Finally, following on from our earlier September report, that Wearnes had secured the regional distributorship for three hypercar brands, Koenigsegg, Rimac and Pininfarina, the event also saw the debut of the Rimac C_Two electric hypercar in Singapore.
This Croatian upstart produces 1,914hp and 2,300Nm of torque from four wheel-mounted electric motors, with some predictably mind-bending performance figures to match: 0-96km/h in 1.85 seconds, 0-300km/h in 11.8 seconds, and a (electronically limited) top speed of 412km/h. Only 150 C_Twos will be made, and deliveries will start next year.
Such is Rimac’s expertise with EV technology that several high-profile brands are knocking on its door for its services, including Koenigsegg, Aston Martin, Mercedes-AMG, and Hyundai/Kia. Even Porsche has a 15 percent stake in the company, according to representative Kresimir Coric.