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Rudy Salim’s fascination with cars has morphed into a career importing the biggest brands to Indonesia.

As a child, Rudy Salim recalls being rather fascinated with cars. Fast, luxurious cars. Little did he know that this childhood interest would manifest itself into a successful career—one that would cater to connoisseurs of the high life.

Born into a family of doctors, he followed the trajectory expected of him initially by enrolling in medical college  but quickly realised his "life would come to nothing if he followed that path" and so he withdrew his place at University and founded a micro finance company, Excel Trade, that he started from funds earned from the sale of a car his mother gifted him.

His decision at such a young age would indeed prove pivotal to his career.

The company drew in 400 clients its first quarter and, within a few years, had a turnover of Rp. 1.5 billion, he tells us. No mean feat for a young entrepreneur who clearly had a focus and who had proved that it was business, not medicine, that was in his veins. Now flush with cash, Rudy could turn his attention to the industry he was always passionate about—cars.

"In 2013, I started by importing three luxury sports cars and I still remember the cars to this day", he says of the Porsche Cayenne, Mercedes-Benz SL350 and the Mercedes-Benz CLS350 that first filled his showroom.  And so Prestige Image Motorcars was born. Over time, the company expanded its scope into the retail and property business.

"This expansion rewarded me with the privilege of [meeting] people like Robert Liong, Ronny Liong, Alex Gondrong and several artists such as Luna Maya and Raffi Ahmad, all of [whom] subsequently became my partners in several business ventures that as of 2018, have 21 branches all over Indonesia," they now 30-year old Rudy says.

With Raffi Ahmad, he currently has six movies in production that are slated to be released beginning in April this year. Not one to be confined to only one industry (he also dabbles in real estate), Rudy is also involved in the retail business. Space Market, located in the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport business district comprises of several sub-businesses such as petrol stations, food-courts and various retail outlets.

Despite the challenges of import taxes and levies on luxury items (which results in cars being almost three times as expensive as those sold overseas), Rudy is determined to realise his childhood dream.

"My love for cars, frankly, was hurt by these prices because it damaged my effort to realise my dreams of making my mark in the Indonesian automotive industry,” he notes. But, “it did spur me to research more about the automotive taxation system and requirements to import sports car, among others, for the purpose of importing a sports car for myself." he adds.

Equipped with this newfound knowledge, he saw a business opportunity, which then led him to open Prestige Image Motorcars. As of January 2018, the company has over 28 imported cars for sale.

At the start of 2013, Prestige imported Porsche models such as the Cayman, Macan, Cayenne and Boxster as they were  modestly priced compared to the other supercars. Other brands such as the Ferrari 812 and Rolls-Royce Ghost were also on offer.  More recently, in 2017 and 2018, the company imported a significant number of Lamborghinis such as the Huracán and Urus following its receipt of the official warranties as authorised Lamborghini dealer from Lamborghini Indonesia. Hyper cars—which are a niche here— such as the Koenigsegg CCX and the Bugatti Veyron  have become  signature showroom models in recent weeks.

Custom Design

"The company has a bespoke programme that we call Vehicle Customization Inquiry or VCI," Rudy notes. "With this programme, customers are able to choose the exterior colour and the interior's theme."  Customers can have their names embroidered onto the leather seats' headrests to give their purchased car a bit more of a personal touch. Each car is thus unique.

More recently the company began importing the Bugatti Veyron 16.4.  Targeted toward Indonesia's wealthy automobile aficionados, Rudy hopes sales will soon pave the way for the import of another Bugatti model, the Chiron.

It also imports the U.S.-built Tesla Model X.

The challenges to import are numerous. The company needs more than seven months to get things done, Rudy says. Starting from the process of moving the car from Monaco, to the Indonesian custom bond process before this legendary 1001hp car can be shown to the Indonesian public.

Per current government regulations, cars that have been produced more than two years ago, are now allowed to be sold in Indonesia. Thus, only new cars can be bought, imported and sold in Indonesia. With the introduction of the Bugatti Veyron, the company hopes this can provide a "teaser" of sorts for the Indonesian market.

As part of its sales model, the company hosts private events for a few select clients that are interested in the car, to introduce them personally to the car and to take as much time as they want to see and feel the car.

They also arrange for clients to visit the Bugatti factory to see first hand the birth of a Veyron, while at the same time, choose their preferred colours and specifications that are tailored for their needs.

Rudy notes that while there are several interested parties none have progressed to actually purchasing the vehicle. But with tireless marketing of this hyper car in a variety of ways such as exhibition shows, sports cars club's activities and test-drives, it is hoped that this handsome vehicle will grace the streets of the capital–and beyond—in the months to come.

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