Fresh off another year of record sales, Rolls-Royce expects to see a modest increase in volume this year – largely due to its Bespoke program, which offers buyers an almost limitless range of customized options for the British brand’s models.
The popularity of customization is becoming a real selling point for luxury vehicle makers. In fact, BMW’s super luxury division thinks that the percentage of orders for customized, tailor-made cars will grow steadily closer to the 100% level in the coming years.
Rolls has not only been adding more models to its line-up, but also offering unique, limited-edition variants – such as the Phantom Drophead Coupe Nighthawk it introduced in Phoenix this week. Said to be “inspired by stealth technology in modern aerospace development,” only nine Nighthawks will be produced.
It is a trend of the times: super-rich clients often want to stand out. Those who are going to spend (much) more than a quarter million dollars on their new vehicles frequently desire a model that is unique. With Bespoke, Rolls can offer them a slew of choices, including 44 exterior colors and more than a dozen shades of high quality leather.
”A record number of customers spend one-on-one time with our design consultants to personalize their cars, ” said CEO Torsten Muller-Otvos.
Already, around 90% of the vehicles leaving its Goodwood, U.K., plant are getting the Bespoke treatment. How much room for growth there is remains to be seen, said Gerry Spahn, spokesman for Rolls-Royce North America.
“It is clear though, that for us growth will mainly come from Bespoke. You name it, we can do it. Under one condition: we will not compromise safety,” he said.
Two years ago, a customer ordered a Phantom with 446 diamonds in its roof liner and door panels. The special version is believed to have cost between $2 million and $3 million. Another order was for a “fleet,” with a value of some $30 million. However, Rolls was not prepared to mention the number of cars involved.
Last year, BMW’s flagship division delivered 4,063 cars, with showrooms closing deals worth some 1.2 billion British pounds, or about $1.82 billion. It was the fifth year in a row with increased sales – thanks to the introduction of the Wraith coupe and the Ghost II – and the best in the 111-year history of the British brand, an increase of 12% over 2013.
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The one downside was a slide in the Chinese market because of the government crackdown on conspicuous wealth. In the longer term, Rolls expects sales in China to recover, and to grab the number one position again. But for now, North America is the best-selling market, at 30% of its global sales.
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Rolls-Royce does not provide market figures, but it is estimated that 20% of their cars are sold in Europe, nearly 20% in the Middle-East, more than 15% in China and the balance of 10 to 15 percent in the APAC countries.
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In the years immediately after its takeover by BMW, Rolls had only a limited supply of products, primarily the Phantom sedan. It has been rapidly expanding that line-up and is working on new models, including a drop head convertible based on the Wraith.
A decision on a super-luxury SUV is expected to be made this year.