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Why Is This Man Smiling?


Even as 2022 sales of light vehicles in the United States fell to their lowest level since 2011 due to lingering supply chain issues, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars is reporting record sales results for 2022.

Rolls-Royce Cullinan Black Badge. The Cullinan is the brand’s most popular model.

Evidently, the super-rich remain unaffected by the current economic turmoil. Rolls-Royce reported a record 6,021 sales in 2022 on Monday, up 8% on same period in 2021.

In addition, the automaker had the highest value bespoke commissions in the marque’s 118-year history, no doubt helped by the company’s Coachbuild program. Coachbuild is Rolls-Royce’s name for its revival of customized coachbuilding — the only automaker in the world to offer such a service — and one that costs each customer seven figures, although Rolls-Royce declines to say exactly what each one costs. 

Still, compare the British automaker’s results to that of the rest of BMW Group, which saw overall sales decline by 1.3% in 2022 vs 2021, including Rolls-Royce’s results.

“It was the first year we ever delivered more than 6,000 cars in a single 12-month period, with strong demand across our entire product portfolio. But as a true House of Luxury, sales are not our sole measure of success,” said Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Chief Executive Officer of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. “We are not and never will be a volume manufacturer. Bespoke is Rolls-Royce, and commissions were also at record levels last year. … Our clients are now happy to pay around half a million Euros for their unique motor car.”

The Middle East leads other markets in demand for Rolls-Royce Bespoke vehicles, with the automaker opening the invitation-only Private Office in Dubai, the first outside Goodwood. The company plans to open others around the world going forward, which could include the United States — its largest market overall. China is its second-largest market, although sales did decline in 2022 from 2021. 

The company’s first all-electric model launches later in 2023: the 2024 Rolls-Royce Spectre.

Nevertheless, Rolls-Royce is a brand that’s less affected by economic turbulence than most OEMs, including BMW.

An electric future

But the marque is still impacted by increasing demand for battery electric vehicles. 

As with other automakers, Rolls-Royce is transitioning to an electrified future, with plans to launch its first battery-electric vehicle, the Spectre, in the fourth quarter of 2023. The two-door coupe will be built on the same proprietary aluminum architecture used for all other Rolls-Royce models, which the company says was originally conceived to facilitate future electrification.

The company even redesigned its iconic “Spirit of Ecstasy” hood ornament that’s lower, with a more dynamic stance that more closely resembles the drawings made by her creator, illustrator and sculptor Charles Sykes.

Rolls-Royce notes its pre-order bank for fully electric Spectre exceeded the marque’s own expectations, with the order book for all vehicles stretching “far into 2023.” Further out, the brand expects all of its models to be battery electric by 2030.

The secret of its success

The Rolls-Royce Ghost is the brand’s most popular model in the Asia-Pacific region. The Black Badge trim is shown.

The British manufacturer’s bright prospects come as it celebrates its 20th anniversary of the start of full production at its new manufacturing base in Goodwood, England, which the CEO credits with maintaining Rolls-Royce’ standards.

“Everyone shares the same extraordinary commitment to excellence and attention to detail, and a remarkable ability to rise to a challenge and turn ideas into reality. Above all, they are people who constantly strive for perfection, because they will not settle for anything less,” Müller-Ötvös said.

But it’s more than just careful, quality manufacturing, according to the CEO.

“We’ve transformed our business through a long-term strategy based on continuous and sustainable growth, careful management and planning, an unwavering focus on profit,” he said. “We’ve succeeded because we listen and consistently evolve our products in line with our clients’ tastes and requirements, consciously rejuvenating our brand while retaining our innate exclusivity and rarity.”

Understandably, he’s guarded about this year’s sales potential, despite the possibility of an economic downturn.

“We are not immune to global challenges and economic headwinds,” Müller-Ötvös said, adding, “we are cautiously optimistic that 2023 will be a strong year for Rolls-Royce.”


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