Ferrari opens first exhibition outside of Italy in China

Luxury Italian auto brand Ferrari is to inaugurate another mecca for its fans, building a permanent brand exhibition outside of its hometown Maranello for the first time.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the marque's newest attraction will be in China, inside the World Expo Park's Italian Center in Shanghai, the country's second city.

The exhibition, which will run for at least three years, will feature current and past Ferrari models taken from the collection at Maranello, as well as images and videos touching on topics such as Design, Ferrari in China and Green Technology.

The 900 square meter exhibition is set to open in a few weeks time, Ferrari said.

Ferrari has sold sports cars in China for exactly two decades this year, but in recent years it has seen dramatically increased demand from the nation -- last year, it emerged that China is now its second-largest market.

The extraordinary demand from Chinese consumers for luxury has also led the brand to develop a special edition model, set to launch at the same time as the exhibition and also likely to go on display at Auto China (April 23-May 2).

The model is based on the 458 Italia but has been given a particularly Chinese overhaul, finished in an exclusive color and with a large golden dragon on the hood.

Gold is also used on the exterior and interior livery of the edition, of which just 20 will be produced, with prices currently unconfirmed.

Products from names such as Porsche, Ferrari and Lamborghini are still niche in China, but skyrocketing sales are forcing most automakers to reconsider their global strategies in the face of increasing Chinese influence.

So while Ferrari may be producing its special edition 458 Italia just for the Chinese market, it's likely more hopes are pinned on the Ferrari FF, the firm's first four-wheel drive model apparently designed with countries like China in mind which has already been a huge success in Asia -- despite a very public self-combustion not far from the site of Ferrari's planned exhibition, captured by plenty of passing camera phones.