Consumers, automakers and just about everyone else has felt the impact of the economy’s doldrums. Even luxury car makers experienced the downturn! However, there are still people who have money and they continue to spend money. Thus, luxury car sales are again doing quite well.
Rolls-Royce cars are known for their luxurious finishes, effortless acceleration and refined ride. On January 10th the company released sales figures stating 2,711 Rolls were sold in 2010 compared to 1,002 for the previous year. This was more than double the previous high in 2008. BMW took over the British based carmaker seven years ago.
Part of the reason for the substantial sales increase was because of a new ‘entry level’ model that became available at the end of 2009. The new Rolls Ghost has the looks, large engine and luxury presence of its larger brother – the Phantom. The price of the ‘entry level’ Rolls is about $312,000 which is less that the Phantom’s over $450,000 sticker.
The Ghost has attracted a new set of wealthy drivers (or their chauffeurs) as 80 percent have never owned the brand before. Furthermore, the new Asian rich from Beijing to Bangalore are buyers of the car.
America remains the company’s biggest market, although sales in China, Roll’s second largest market, surged 600 percent and in India 400 percent.
Roll’s chief, Torsten Muller-Ostros, points out that the car’s British genes of a rich wood and leather interior is combined with engines and technology that comes from Germany.
Where Rolls-Royce is leading, other British luxury car makers seem to be following. For example, in 2010 Bentley (owned by Volkswagen) sales increased by 11 percent to over 5,000 cars, 80 percent of which were sold abroad. America bought more Bentleys than anywhere else but China has rapidly become the second largest market for this luxury brand.
Furthermore, the Kuwaiti consortium (owners of Austin Martin) that builds sportier and less expensive cars, at least compared to the Rolls and Bentleys of the world, projects its business to increase. Last year, Austin Martin opened a large showroom in Beijing. Austin is rumored to be talking with Mercedes-Benz about taking over the design and production of the German firm’s Maybach luxury cars. Mercedes might well have come to the conclusion that BMW with Rolls and Volkswagen with Bentley were right not to shift production to the more expensive German labor market.
The new automotive order seems to be a hybrid affair of combining German engines and engineering with British luxury interiors.
Regardless of the worldwide economy, luxury always has its place and demand.
Kyle Busch is the author of “Drive the Best for the Price…” He welcomes your comments or car questions at his auto web site: www.DriveTheBestBook.com . Join him on Facebook and Twitter.