Rolls-Royce continues to maintain its position as a leading luxury car maker by complementing its exclusivity with innovative design.
One often hears the best products of many various segments claiming they are the “Rolls-Royce of…” It is without a doubt that the Rolls-Royce brand is seen as the pinnacle of super-luxury—iconic and recognised worldwide across different cultures. Under the BMW Group, the brand has thrived as the most successful luxury motor manufacturer in its segment, with the highest ever sales in its over 100-year history last year, delivering 4,063 cars globally.
Suffice to say, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars is a brand with a long and illustrious history, but that does not mean we do not look forward to the future. Co-founder Sir Henry Royce’s famous words were: “Where it does not exist, design it.”
As with our customers, we remain contemporary and in vogue, with the odd cue that harks back to our heritage. It is true that our customer base has expanded with Ghost, launched in 2009, and then Wraith, launched in 2013. This brought in new customers who would not have otherwise considered a Rolls-Royce before. So, remaining timeless but relevant is key.
These cars have brought in a new base of younger owners who consider a Rolls-Royce in duality: not merely a chauffeur-driven car, but also a super-luxury product that is authentic, hand-made, well-built, and effortless to drive. Authenticity underlines the product—from the consistency of brand values, quality of materials, engineering, and the truly bespoke hand-crafted nature of our cars. No two Rolls-Royces are ever the same, with variations in wood leather and requirements tailored to the customer. An expert painter is the sole craftsman who paints coachlines on all Rolls-Royces before they leave the manufacturing plant.
Now, as you may have heard, we announced to the media via hand-delivered letters that Project Cullinan is an all-new Rolls-Royce that can bring you from the opera to the Alps. In other words, it will be effortless, everywhere. The announcement is a seminal moment of our 111-year history, and it is the most significant product announcement since the introduction of Phantom in 2003. The fact that Rolls-Royce is entering this niche but interesting segment will spark a new era for the company and the business.
Like Phantom when it first debuted, Project Cullinan will change the landscape of the super-luxury segment. Project Cullinan will be a new concept in luxury, and we will include our customers, the media, and enthusiasts in its development. It is a bold and inclusive way to develop our cars.
Some observers have called this new car a sport utility vehicle (SUV), but it really is not. SUV has the words “Sport” and “Utility” in its abbreviated form, and Project Cullinan will neither be sport nor utility. We are confident that the car would instead deliver presence, elegance, and purpose wherever its owners choose to be in the world. And, it is equally satisfying whether it is driven or being driven in.
Some have also questioned whether Project Cullinan would suit the brand image of Rolls-Royce. We say, most certainly. Looking back at our history, it is plain to see that the Honourable Charles Rolls was an adventurer—and he, together with many of our early customers, took their Rolls-Royce cars through many overland adventures, such as the Scottish Reliability Trials and the Alpine Trials. So, it is very much in our DNA to produce a high-bodied Rolls-Royce.
A second upcoming model we announced, coming to market in mid-2016, is a pinnacle drophead (convertible) tourer that will deliver both effortless, open-top touring, and an engaging motoring experience for four passengers in supreme comfort. This too will introduce even more discerning men and women to Rolls-Royce ownership.
Of course, we will never ever be a mass luxury brand, even with the introduction of these new models. We never intend to sell cars in five digit volumes, and each-and every-one of our cars is usually commissioned by our customers. We are but a precious drop in the ocean when it comes to volume; the 4,063 delivered in 2014 is still very small by automotive production standards. Exclusivity is maintained. You will never see a Rolls-Royce at every street corner.
We always say, Rolls-Royce is Bespoke. That means that instead of building a generic car down a production line, we cater for every whim-and-fancy of our customers. It means, sourcing for a rare wood in an isolated part of the world, or crash-testing a specific interior accoutrement to ensure that it is safe for our customers, even in the unlikely event of an accident. This way, our brand is secure in the super luxury segment, as we are always building cars that are unique to the customer.
Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, whatever happens, will always hold a very special place at the upper echelons of the automotive world. With our new products and careful planning, we are confident that the brand will continue to be the zenith of super-luxury cars.
PHOTO: R ROYCE
Copyright © 2015 Singapore Institute of Management