Ford’s F-150 SVT Raptor has become the brand’s best selling performance-enhanced pickup in the United States, winning over buyers from coast to coast. It’s earned fans overseas as well, including China, where pickups traditionally aren’t seen as status vehicles.
Until now, that is. According to The Detroit News, the Raptor’s combination of aggressive styling and go-almost-anywhere capability have made it one of the most sought-after vehicles on the Chinese gray market.
Since the truck isn’t officially sold in China, gray market imports are the only way for Chinese buyers to obtain Raptor pickups, at prices over three times what U.S. buyers pay. One Chinese website has a Raptor SuperCrew listed for the equivalent of $145,000, while a 2010 Raptor recently sold via another site for $109,000.
Blame taxes for part of the upcharge, since American-built vehicles with large engines get slammed with tariffs exceeding 50-percent by the Chinese government. Still, those with the ability to pay for the privilege of driving a Raptor seem willing to do so, regardless of cost.
Ironically, the trend towards SUVs and pickups as desirable vehicles in China was started by Hummer, which also enjoyed gray market success in China a decade ago. Chinese industrial equipment manufacturer Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Corporation even tried to buy the brand, until the transaction was shot down by the Chinese government.
If you see Raptor sales to Chinese customers as your ticket to retirement, think again: inventory is beginning to outstrip demand, leading to a potential drop in Raptor pricing within China. On the other hand, we’re pretty sure the Chinese would love the Mopar Ram Runner, too, so we’d guess that’s where the smart money is these days.