Rolls-Royce aims to take on Bentley's Continental Flying Spur with the new Ghost.
It turns out the rich are not that different from the rest of us. Roll-Royce Motor cars delivered only 329 cars to customers, a decline of 33.5% in the first six months of the year. June, the latest reporting period for the BMW subsidiary, was even more disappointing as the Rolls-Royce brand sold 53 automobiles compared to 114 (-53.5%) a year ago. But that was before the Great Recession took its deep hold around the world.
In spite of the ongoing slump, Rolls is in the process of expanding its manufacturing workforce to build a new “smaller” car, Ghost, which will formally debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show this September. If all goes well, and a new car is always a reason for optimism among sales executives, by the end of 2009 the total number of workers at Goodwood will be 900, a roughly 400 position increase by starting the count during the boom year of 2007 and continuing through the bust at the back end of 2008 caused by the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the implosion of the world’s financial markets that followed. The majority of the new positions are in the wood, leather and paint shops, as well as the assembly areas. Rolls attributes 150 of the jobs solely to the new Ghost model.
“This is good news for the British car industry at a time when it is struggling. Britain has an exceptional talent for automotive production and we are keen to maximize this at Rolls-Royce. Our new model, the Ghost, has enjoyed an extremely positive international response and we now need to put people in place to bring the car to market,” said CEO Tom Purves.
As TDB has previously noted, the 212-inch long Ghost is powered by a brand new 6.6 liter turbocharged V12 engine unique. This engine is rated at 563 horsepower. Ghost, it’s said, will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds and has a governed top speed of 155 mph. The engine is combined with an 8-speed automatic ZF gearbox. Unlike the larger Rolls models on sale, this one is designed to be driven by the owner, much like the Continental of Bentley.
Still this is a big, massive looking machine that is totally at odds with the green movement. The architecture is based on the 7-series of parent company BMW, though you would be hard pressed to note any similarities. The provenance gives hope, however, to the marketing claim that this really will be a handling machine.