ON A ROLL: Rolls-Royce reported a record 4063 vehicles sold in 2014 brought about by its shift to smaller models such as its Ghost II and Wraith (pictured here). Image: Rolls-Royce
FRANKFURT, Germany - Luxury automaker Rolls-Royce is upbeat about its sales since smaller, more sporty, cars gained appeal with younger customers and brought about a 13% increase in deliveries through 2014.
Chief executive Torsten Mueller-Oetvoes said the brand benefited by expanding its model range beyond its flagship Phantom.
Rolls introduced smaller models such as the Ghost II in late 2014 and its Wraith Coupe in late 2013, models which helped achieve a record 4063 vehicles sold in 2014. Each is almost a metre shorter than the Phantom.
The company is broadening its portfolio to suit a younger market with various aspirations, Mueller-Oetvoes said. In China, for example, the average customer was in his/her late 30's or early 40's, around 10 to 15 years younger than elsewhere.
Rolls is even considering building a sport utility vehicle. A decision will be made this year, the CEO said, and given the company's product portfolio and the growth in its ultra-wealthy clientele, Mueller-Oetvoes was quietly confident about sales for 2015.
Around the world 'high net worth' individuals, Rolls says, are defined as "those having investable assets equivalent of R11-million, is expected to reach a record of R751-trillion by 2016, 22% more than in 2013, according to a report by Capgemini and RBC Wealth Management.
Growth at Rolls has been steady since 2003 when the company sold 300 Phantoms, the first car developed by the company under it then new BMW ownership, but it still lags behind rival Bentley, owned by Volkswagen, which has yet to disclose full-year sales but sold 7786 cars in the first nine months of the year and 6516 in 2013.
Rolls says it is not playing the volume sales game. As Mueller-Oetvoes quietly said: "BMW gives me an earnings target, not a volume target."
'TECH IS EXPENSIVE'
Asked if Rolls might consider a move toward greater independence, just as Ferrari is being spun off from Fiat Chrysler, the German executive saw little appeal in such an idea.
Mueller-Oetvoes said: "I hope not. I am glad to be part of the BMW Group because we can learn from their vehicle development capacities and know-how.
"Developing the next generation of fuel-efficient technology is really expensive."