A bumper year for Rolls-Royce
Rolls-Royce turned in record sales for 2012, selling more cars than any other year in the company’s 108-year history, setting a new sales record for the third year in a row. Not that we are in mass production territory here – the company sold a total of 3,575 Ghosts and Phantoms last year.
The luxury car marque sold strongly across the world but with notable gains in the Middle East, where sales were up 26 per cent and specifically in Saudi Arabia, where sales rose 63 per cent. In fact, Abu Dhabi Motors, the Rolls-Royce dealership in, you guessed, Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, was the number two dealership in the world, beaten into second place only by Beijing as China’s wealthy also took to luxury on wheels.
In fact, the Abu Dhabi dealership was named Global Dealer of the Year for 2012 at the annual Rolls-Royce World Dealer Conference, edging out competition from Beijing, London and New York for the title. Abu Dhabi once again held the number one spot in Bespoke Rolls-Royce vehicles,
boasting the richest Bespoke specifications, and developing creative vehicle concepts specifically for UAE customers.
2012 marked another record overall for the Rolls-Royce Bespoke personalisation programme, a service with Rolls-Royce’s legendary hand-craftsmanship and attention to detail at its core. Nearly every Phantom family model (95 per cent) and three out of every four Ghosts (73 per cent) left the Rolls-Royce factory with some element of Bespoke personalisation. Sales were also enhanced by several exceptional Bespoke collections in 2012, including Phantom Coupé Aviator, Art Deco, and Ghost One Thousand and One Nights.
Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Chief Executive Officer, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, told Robin Amlôt, “We had an outstanding year in spite of the challenges we faced, and Rolls-Royce now leads the ultra luxury market by some considerable margin.” He went on to describe Rolls-Royce as ‘a feel-good product’, saying, “Many of our customers reward themselves for outstanding achievements in their own businesses or to celebrate certain occasions,”
adding that Rolls-Royce is in a sense ‘not a car business, it is a luxury goods business’.
In fact, you may be surprised to learn that the boss of Rolls-Royce candidly admitted, “Nobody needs a Rolls-Royce to get from A to B.” What makes a car that takes anything between 500 and 1,000 hours to build is the craftsmanship, the materials and the quality, all ‘the best that money can buy’.
And that is reflected in this claim that Rolls-Royce is one of the few, indeed perhaps the only automobile manufacturer to be in a position to make: Müller-Ötvös said, “Over 75 per cent of all the cars ever built in the 108-year history of Rolls-Royce are still on the road – that is a clear indication of quality.”
Müller-Ötvös refuted the use of the term ‘crazy’ when asked about the more unusual requests put to the Rolls-Royce Bespoke programme, preferring to describe customers as ‘individual’, citing the following, “Walk down the line at Goodwood [home to Rolls-Royce’s manufacturing facility] and you will
see lots of different, very interesting colour combinations. You, as a typical English gentleman may say, ‘Oops. That’s not my colour!’ But take, for example, a bright orange Phantom Coupé to the Middle East and you will see it in a different light and I mean that – the light in the Middle East is different, such cars look stunning in this environment compared to how they would look under the greyer skies of the UK.
“We have had customers asking us to build a safe into the car, or a humidor that can accommodate 300 cigars; we embroider family crests and build bar sets around specially commissioned glasses.”Finally, what does the future hold for Rolls-Royce? Müller-Ötvös is ‘cautiously optimistic’ for 2013, noting that parent company BMW Group does not pressure him to grow sales volume. He believes the car will continue to have ‘presence’. It will continue to be ‘the best that money can buy with precision engineering, fantastic material and attention to detail – this will not change’.
REVEALING THE WRAITH
Rolls-Royce Motor Cars is presenting its new model, the Rolls-Royce Wraith for the first time at the Geneva Motor Show on 5 March 2013. First deliveries are expected in the fourth quarter of the year. The launch revives one of the most famous Rolls-Royce names first used in 1938 but the new Wraith is a shape that Rolls-Royce as a brand has never seen before. “Wraith alludes to an almost imperceptible but powerful force, something rare, agile and potent, a spirit that will not be tethered to the earth. It is the perfect name for our new model.” claims Müller-Ötvös.
The new car aims to embrace the very finest things in life – elegance, beauty, refinement and luxury – shaping the future of Rolls-Royce, building on the success of Phantom and Ghost ranges. In the last decade the name Phantom has become synonymous with luxury. The model’s launch in 2003 heralded the marque’s return to form.
Ghost followed in 2009, reviving one of the most celebrated names in motoring history. The return of the Wraith was perhaps an inevitable choice to make.
Derived from Scots dialect, the use of the name ‘wraith’ follows traditional Rolls-Royce nomenclature in drawing ethereal inspiration. However, it also hints at a sense of darkness, something a little more ‘menacing’ than the stately presence of the Ghost and the Phantom.
Launched in 1938, the first Rolls-Royce Wraith featured a marriage of dynamic power delivery and hallmark luxury, an approach emphatically endorsed in Britain’s Autocar shortly after the car’s debut:‘...it seems of little consequence what the precise maximum speed figure is when such astonishingly easy and completely effortless running is available at, say, 75 mph.”
Times… and performance… have moved on, yet Rolls-Royce believes the 2013 Wraith embodies the spirit of adventure shown by the Hon. Charles Stewart Rolls, one of the company’s founding forefathers and a man who indulged a passion for innovation, engineering and, most importantly, adventure. Rolls was a passionate racing driver, balloonist and aviator, winning the praise of King George V, who hailed him the ‘greatest hero of the day’ on becoming the first person to cross the English Channel and return non-stop in a flying machine.