Ferrari chief’s magic boyhood moment
Prancing Horsepower Seduced by the rasp of a Ferrari V12 powerplant at the age of 12, Herbert Appleroth is now the custodian for the Italian brand in Australia
HERBERT Appleroth can still remember when he heard the roar of his first Ferrari. “I was 12 years of age playing golf with my father when I heard this car,” says Appleroth who is now chief executive of both Ferrari Australasia and Ferrari Japan.
When he found out what it was he told his father he would one day buy one. “He said: ‘If you work hard, one day you will’. I was lucky enough to purchase my first Ferrari when I was 25. And now I am running the brand.”
Now 41, Appleroth says he comes from a “long line of car fanatics.” His great grandfather, Bert Appleroth, was a Sydney tram conductor who founded a business in 1917 that became known as Aeroplane Jelly. Bert Appleroth’s love of planes inspired him to choose the name for the brand of jelly crystals.
Appleroth grew up in Sydney and went to Bond University on the Gold Coast before his passion for cars saw him work in the car industry. He worked for Volkswagen and Audi and then joined Maserati. His success with Maserati in Australia saw him promoted to global marketing director based in Maserati’s headquarters in Italy.
He moved Japan in 2010 to oversee the marketing of Ferrari which, like Maserati, is also owned by the Fiat group. He moved back to Australia last year but, for the moment at least, oversees the Ferrari business in the two countries. When he arrived in Tokyo, Japan was the sixth largest market for Ferrari and now it is the second, selling around 500 of the luxury cars a year. The Australian market is much smaller, but relative to the size of the population, is it is doing well here.
“If you take a five-year average, we deliver around 120 cars (to Australia) a year,” says Appleroth. As part of its luxury brand mystique, Ferrari deliberately restricts the supply of its products in each market. “It is always the Ferrari tradition that we deliver at least one less than the demand.”
Appleroth says he can’t talk about Ferrari’s clients in Australia but Linfox founder Lindsay Fox is reported to be a Ferrari lover as is former Coca-Cola Amatil chief Dean Wills.
He says Japanese buyers opt for more top of the range models while Australia’s luxury car tax makes the top-end cars very expensive. “Australian customers really think a lot more about the purchase of luxury goods than in Japan,” Appleroth says.
For would-be Ferrari owners, he is overseeing the arrival of the new California T this year. It has a retractable hardtop and a turbocharged V8 engine – and an “entry level” price of around $410,000. He says the California T appeals to a slightly younger buyer in Australia – about 45 compared to the average age of 48 for other Ferraris – and has attracted first time buyers. “It really is a versatile car. You can drive it to a beautiful mountain lake – or the supermarket.”
Ferrari Australasia’s Herbert Appleroth, above, is overseeing the launch of the California T at the ‘entry-level’ price of around $ 410,000