Rolls-Royce Boosts Volume and Narrows Sales Gap With Rival Toyota
Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited is on track to become the highest volume automaker in the world someday. Management is keeping it under wraps but volume has been exploding over the last few years. For 2014, the brand delivered a record 4,063 cars, up 12 percent on its volume for 2013 — closing the gap with Toyota’s 10.23 million global sales.
Unfortunately, Rolls’ five year volume streak didn’t last but it is creeping back up after some minor setbacks. For 2016, the brand announced its second highest ever annual sales result in the marquee’s 113-year history, up 6 percent on its 2015 results, for a total of 4,011 global sales. While it looks like the premium automaker has — once again — placed Toyota’s volume back in its sights, Rolls-Royce doesn’t want to get too cocky and has implemented a strategy that should keep the customers pouring in.
With last week’s introduction of the new Phantom VIII, there’s no doubt that the updated model will persist as the obvious choice for the world’s most influential and wealthy individuals. However, the Phantom only accounts for 15 percent of the brand’s total volume. Starting at just a hair under $300,000, Rolls-Royce’s Ghost appeals to a broader, more youthful, and thriftier consumer base.
According to Automotive News, the average age of a Rolls buyer was 56 before the Ghost made it’s 2010 debut. Today, it’s 45. Torsten Müller-Ötvös, CEO of Rolls-Royce, attributes the majority of the brand’s recent volume successes to the model and it’s 4-door counterpart, the Wraith. More body choices and bespoke assembly have also helped to bolster volume.
“That has really, really gone a long way in actually bringing in a totally new buyer and shedding that stigma of Rolls-Royce being the old man’s car, so to speak,” said Alan Sheynin, Rolls-Royce sales manager at Miller Motorcars in Greenwich, Connecticut.
However, the Toyota and Volkswagen are fairly comfortable at the top. If they’re to to be toppled, the “British” automaker needs a secret weapon. Fortunately, it has one. In 2018, Rolls will unveil what it has been calling Project Cullinan — a crossover built on the Phantom VIII’s architecture. Whether or not it’s prepared to make up the 10 million unit disparity between the automaker and Toyota is anybody’s guess, but it is undoubtedly going to make a difference.
The Phantom-based crossover should also give the RAV4 a run for it’s money on the streets, too. While hardware is unconfirmed, Rolls’ flagship sedan uses a twin-turbocharged 6.75-liter V12. If that makes it into the premium CUV, it should outperform the Toyota’s 2.5-liter I4 in all areas but fuel economy. When asked if the brand might consider a smaller engine, like a V8, Müller-Ötvös expressed offense toward the notion.
“This is detrimental for luxury,” he said. “It’s not what we would do.”
Rolls-Royce has also been adding more modern amenities to the Phantom that are expected to trickle down to the other models: digital instrument panels, rear-wheel steering, a Wi-Fi hot spot, loads of bespoke options, and touch-sensitive power doors.
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“This is detrimental for luxury,” This!
You know, it's a lot harder, takes a lot more innovation and engineering expertise, to build a Toyota Corolla that sells for $20,000, lasts for 200,000 miles, and has a 3 or 4% annual failure rate, than it is to build a car like a Rolls where you basically just throw money and complexity at every design spec. I rarely see anything in these hyper luxury vehicles that actually impresses me as anything other than piling goop on goop and gadgets on gadgets.