One Does Not Simply Tell Rolls-Royce How to Sell a Car

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
one does not simply tell rolls royce how to sell a car

Aston Martin is pretty damn pleased with itself, having just debuted a futuristic and luxurious electric car concept in Geneva — one it says will attract the next generation of ultra-well-heeled motorcar buyers.

The Lagonda Vision Concept previews a real-world car scheduled for production in 2021, with another to follow by 2023. Bearing a re-launched brand name long associated with the Aston marque, this Lagonda coddles its passengers in a Blade Runner-esque shell that’s outfitted like one of those sexy, Roger Moore-era James Bond escape pods. There’s cashmere and silk. Savile Row tailors were brought in to handle the upholstery. Quite simply, it’s the future of motoring, Aston Martin claims, so you’d better get used to it.

Filled with unbridled enthusiasm over his new creation, Aston design chief Marek Reichman got a little personal during an interview with Britain’s Autocar. Let’s just say his target, now aghast, is having none of this nonsense.

“It’s a game changer for luxury products in the future, what luxury can be and what it will be. The world is changing, but look at luxury: it’s still very traditional. Luxury and technology haven’t been combined yet,” Reichman said of the Lagonda concept.

“Look at Rolls-Royce: it’s the most luxurious car in the world. Given its roots, its reason for being, it’s essentially still an internal combustion engine to replace a horse, a carriage and a trunk. It’s an imperfect package for luxury.”

Now you’ve gone and done it, Marek.

As Lagonda was once an ultra-premium standalone brand, dating back to 1906, the executive feels that resurrecting it to take on Rolls-Royce and Bentley is only natural. This time, however, the returning challenger has a supposed ace in the hole: technology.

To hear Aston CEO Andy Palmer tell it, “Lagonda exists to challenge that thinking and prove that being modern and luxurious are not mutually exclusive concepts.”

Well, modern luxury and technology is just fine and dandy, but one does not simply go around insulting upper-crust British automakers. Speaking to the Financial Times, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars CEO Torsten Müller-Otvös went on the warpath against Reichman and his company.

Aston Martin has “zero clue” about luring wealthy buyers, Müller-Otvös said. Reichman’s drive-by was “highly unprofessional,” he continued, no doubt envisioning a bout of fisticuffs in the garden.

If Aston Martin wants to go after our customers, he suggested, good luck.

“They really don’t understand our segment, they really don’t understand the customers,” the chief executive said. “They are in a complete different league on pricing, they have zero clue what’s going on in the upper, upper segment, zero. I am sorry to be so blunt.”

Müller-Otvös mused that, up until now, both brands enjoyed an “amicable” relationship. Then, after getting his two pence off his chest, an olive branch.

“There is room in the market for the three great British brands [Rolls-Royce, Bentley and Aston Martin] to exist side by side.”

As you’ve no doubt guessed, plummy upper-class arguments between automakers gives us a little thrill, and well it should. Once upon a time, this could have let to pistols at dawn. All of that aside, it’s interesting to see Aston Martin not only spawn a new division and return a storied name to the market, but to do so with such a risky product.

Aston Martin clearly feels there’s a subset of the extreme upper class that’s capable of being lured by futuristic luxury, but we somehow doubt it’ll be the Eton- and Oxford-educated, wood-panelled drawing room type. Time will tell who wins this schoolyard scrap.

[Images: Aston Martin]

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3 of 36 comments
  • Facelvega Facelvega on Mar 08, 2018

    The three great British car brands- Bristol, Caterham, and ginetta

  • Arach Arach on Mar 09, 2018

    I've always thought cadillacs biggest fault was trying to beat BMW at its own game. Aston Martin is SPOT ON here. They can't beat Rolls Royce at Rolls Royce's game... The beauty of it is they are smart enough to see that and realize they can compete with... or even beat Rolls Royce (profits or sales) by playing a DIFFERENT game... by being what they refuse to be. there are some buyers who ARE lured by technology. If they chase Rolls at their own game, they will always be "number 2" (or 3), but if they play a different game, they can be number one IN THAT GAME. Then if people shift more towards technology, they get massive customers. Its totally the right strategy.

  • Slyons My guess is they keep the 2.0 liter they have now with minor tweaks, and shoehorn in the 48V mild hybrid system that just debuted in the CX-90. Should allow for all the regular fun of wringing out the 4 cyl and bump the fuel mileage up at least a couple points. I don't think we'll see a major evolution of the drivetrain until the next next model (NF?).
  • 28-Cars-Later " as long as internal-combustion engines exist?"So... forever until society collapses, rebuilds, and then the Hunger Games begin?
  • Jeff S It would be a neat project but the 6k should include the parts car.
  • Kcflyer Why oh why does every manufacturer slop the roof so much on vehicles that are supposed to be utilitarian? Especially a three row people mover. Let the rear roof square off like an old volvo wagon for cripes sake! And get off my lawn. And don't give me the mpg noise. I'd happily give back a couple mpg for some utility in a "utility" vehicle.
  • Varezhka KISS, just like Miata always has. No exotic powertrain options, a simple 2L NA with MT with similar power output as Mazda3 and CX-30 would best match the car; as much as I have always dreamed of a rotary powered RX-5.That said, the Miata that I actually liked and driven the most was NC. It was just practical enough and comfortable enough over long distance that I can actually use it as my DD/road trip vehicle without losing the lightweight nimble feeling. ND as nice as it is lost some of that IMHO.The only other thing I'd like would be the new MazdaConnect which is so much nicer, and a less angry face.