US, Abu Dhabi - top sales markets for Rolls-Royce

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A final decision on SUV project suitability will be taken this year, states CEO

Dubai - Global sales of Rolls-Royce vehicles crossed the 4,000 units mark for the very first time last year, led by resurgent demand in North America and yet another stellar run in the Middle East. The final tally was 4,063 units delivered to clients worldwide, up 12 per cent from 2013’s 3,630. It was also enough to confirm the British marque’s status as the top super-luxury automotive brand (for models priced at 200,000 euros and over) for another year.

The US – where the brand has multiple dealerships - was the single biggest market in terms of deliveries done, while its Abu Dhabi dealership sold the maximum number of vehicles during the year. Its home base, the UK, was placed fourth among individual markets (sales up 13 per cent). The 2014 overall numbers represent a quadrupling of volumes since 2009.

“Even by mid-2014, I had made the prognosis that full-year sales would cross 4,000 units for the first time in our 111-year history,” said Torsten Müller-Ötvös, CEO, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, speaking to ‘Gulf News’. “In the end we did just that and in a very comfortable way – the Middle East markets had a substantial role in that.”
In fact, apart from the UAE, there was enough demand coming through in the Middle East for the region to rank second after North America. Middle East markets remained receptive to the extensive bespoking programming that Rolls has been finetuning in recent years, including bringing out limited edition collections such as the Maharaja Phantom Drophead Coupe and the Waterspeed.

European markets were in third spot – suggesting that eurozone concerns were not getting in the way of the super-rich picking up their next Rolls – and China in fourth.

“We sold less cars in China than in 2013 and it had to do with government(-led) investigations against corruption, which destabilized the high-end market there for (luxury) watches and cars,” Müller-Ötvös said.

“In Russia, we will be increasing prices because of the rouble’s fall – but before that happened, in the earlier part of the year, there was good demand for models such as the Wraith.”

On whether decline in demand in key markets will have a major impact on 2015 prospects, Müller-Ötvös said: “We have a good order book for the early part of the year… the Ghost Series II was launched in the middle of last year and so these are still early days for the model. But based on discussions with dealers and looking at the order books, I am quietly confident we can have another good year. Internationally, we are well-balanced (in terms of presence) and will not be impacted by one or the other market going down.”

On whether there was any possibility that the manufacturer would consider an expansion of its model line-up in the near term, the CEO said: “If the reference is to the much-rumoured SUV, I can only say we are still working on it and have made no final decision, and for good reasons too. We have to talk it out with the BMW Group.

“But, we will have made a final decision – either a yes or a no – in 2015.”