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Baby Roller Revival: Rolls-Royce...

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Baby Roller Revival: Rolls-Royce wants a piece of former partner Bentley's action

http://www.autoweek.com/news.cms?newsId=103308

(Image at link)

GREG KABLE
Posted Date: 10/4/05

Rolls-Royce will go back to its roots with a range of smaller and—gasp!—less-expensive models as the luxury carmaker seeks to lay the financial foundations for a
prosperous future.

Described as possessing all the traditional Rolls-Royce hallmarks of engineering prestige and upper-crust luxury, the new cars are intended to rejuvenate the BMW-owned British carmaker with entries in the growing $150,000-to-$200,000 segment of the market.

“I believe Rolls-Royce has an opportunity to move into another price point,” says new Rolls-Royce boss Ian Robertson, who previously headed BMW in South Africa.

“Our family of cars will grow to include more attainable models. Over the past 100 years we have made so many different types of cars, so there is a lot of scope for us to move forward,” Robertson told AutoWeek.

The first of Rolls-Royce’s new models, a sedan, won’t appear before 2009, though Robertson is said to have already gained the backing of BMW chairman Helmut Panke. A number of styling proposals have been created, with final decisions on the product mix coming within the next year, Robertson says.

Spurring the move to extend the Rolls-Royce line below the hugely expensive Phantom is the success of the Bentley Continental GT. Bentley built some 5000 of the $171,000 Continental GTs in 2004—six times the number of Phantoms produced at Rolls-Royce’s Goodwood factory in the same year. Robertson says the segment for cars priced upward of $150,000 has grown from 8000 worldwide sales in the late-1990s to 20,000 cars today—and all signs indicate that trend will continue.

Robertson won’t confirm body styles for the baby Rollers, but said the company’s earlier models—such as the 20hp produced during the 1920s—hint at both sedan and coupe initially and possibly even a wagon and convertible later on.

They would all be position­ed well beneath the super-luxurious $332,000 Phantom, at a price that would likely see them compete directly against the Bentley Continental and Flying Spur. The starting price would be about $180,000 in
the United States.

The smaller Rollers will be “authentic to the brand” Robertson says, with traditional Rolls-Royce attributes like a prominent chrome grille and long sweeping hood. He also says the cars will be “less formal.”

He denied suggestions the next-generation BMW 7 Series, due in 2009, would serve as the basis for the baby Roller. But when it comes to powertrains, Rolls will surely dip into the BMW parts bin, as it did for the Phantom’s 6.7-liter 460-hp V12. One possibility is a reworked version of the German carmaker’s new 4.8-liter V8.
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I think it look's pretty sweet.

I wish Lincoln would make a 135,000 Continental flagship, and for Cadillac to make a 140,000 ULS. Just dream's ... haha.
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Maybe its just me, but this sounds lousy.
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Sad... very sad. Rolls-Royce is NOT suppose to be equal to Bentley. It's suppose to be above Bentley. It exposes the failure of BMW to maintain the status of Rolls-Royce and Volkswagen's success at managing the Bentley British marque.

The move to a "less formal" appearance is just flat out scary. I see RR losing respectability for the sake of increasing sales. Notice the article doesn't even come close to mentioning the horribly disappointing sales record of the new Phantom.

Rolls-Royce has been the ultimate luxury vehicle as long as I have been alive. I hope that's not entirely lost by BMW's market repositioning of the fabled brand.
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Notice the article doesn't even come close to mentioning the horribly disappointing sales record of the new Phantom.

[post="25920"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


You gotta stop thinking the North American mentality of quantity over quality The Rolls Royce brand has never been about how many cars they sell, except its a mark that has cars in very limited production reserved for the privelaged few
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You gotta stop thinking the North American mentality of quantity over quality The Rolls Royce brand has never been about how many cars they sell, except its a mark that has cars in very limited production reserved for the privelaged few

[post="26055"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


Explain how that's a North American mentality when the once-respected European luxury marques are probing lower and lower into the popular car segment just to increase market share. You think a sub-$30k Mercedes hatchback really does anything for their image?

Anyway, its Ven thinking that, its RR. Why else would they introduce a cheaper vehicle, to increase their brand cache?
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You gotta stop thinking the North American mentality of quantity over quality The Rolls Royce brand has never been about how many cars they sell, except its a mark that has cars in very limited production reserved for the privelaged few

[post="26055"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


Exactly Fly...

Polish Kris Tell that to BMW, not me. It's BMW who's introducing cheaper models to boost market share and sales. If I had it my way, I wouldn't introduce any model under the Phantom... only equivalent or above.

The reason for mentioning the Phantom's HORRIBLE sales numbers is to indicate the true reasoning behind BMW's decision to introduce less expensive models. Regardless of image, BMW did not buy Rolls-Royce to build it as a courtesy for a privileged few. BMW isn't that generous to its clientele. BMW purchased Rolls-Royce to make money. Rolls-Royce is not profitable at its current sales level. BMW has to introduce less expensive models (and attempt to benefit from RR's reputation) to boost sales.

Go back and reread the article.
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Maybe its just me, but this sounds lousy.

[post="25908"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]

It's just you....surely these cars will be all-Rolls, and big hits....
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It's just you....surely these cars will be all-Rolls, and big hits....

[post="28660"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


Just like the Phantom... right?
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Dude, it's Rolls....does one really expect them to fly off the shelves at an 100K a year clip? The price is pushing half a million. I see enough Phantoms to say that people who like the Rolls-Royce brand and can afford them are up on them. This lower-priced model should open up the customer base a little more, but just like Ferrari, it's still going to be pretty exclusive....it was gonna look like this whether R-R was independent; owned by GM, Toyota, BMW; or still with Bentley under Vickers.
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It's just you....surely these cars will be all-Rolls, and big hits....

[post="28660"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


I agree. Some of you guys are talking like RR will be producing $80K S-Class competitors... that would be scrapping the bottom of the barrel for them. The article will says it'll introduce a baby RR to compete with the GT and Flying Spur, at no less that $180K a pop. So, RR's really not sluming here. Bently made only 5K GTs! It's not like everyone will have one.
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hmmm... BMW's Global sales expectations for the Phantom is an average of 1000 annually. (The Maybach was at some absurd number like 1,500)

Let's go back to the beginning of 2005, and check this article out: to see their Optimism for 2005:

Rolls-Royce is on track and preparing to sell as many as 1000 ultra-expensive vehicles during 2005, according the company's acting chairman.


Krause also noted sales picked up in the second half of 2004, reaching 80 units in December and boosting hopes for total sales of 1000 units during 2005.


300 Phantoms were sold in 2003.
797 Phantoms were sold in 2004.


Where is Rolls-Royce right now? Well through August 2005:

RR has only sold 389 Phantoms.

In this other article, BMW has said:

Indeed, no specific sales targets have been revealed for the two-year-old Phantom either. All the company is prepared to say is that it will sell an average of 1,000 cars per year during the model's 12-year life cycle.

So far, sales have fallen short of such targets. During its first year, just 300 cars were sold. This year, however, sales will "more than double that" and sales will continue to grow as the Phantom becomes better known in the market place, Mr Biggs said.



The thing that’s hilarious is that I've loved Rolls-Royce since I was 3 years old, and you guys are acting like I don’t know anything about its history or reputation. I don't hate the Phantom. I have a Rolls Royce dealer less than 2 miles from my house and I see one almost every day when I drive by (Amazingly, it sits outside with a Bentley Arnage :blink: .) The exterior styling has grown on me and I've always love the interior. Hands down, it's a better vehicle than the Maybach.

My posts in this thread have not encouraged the need to increase sales, but a need to protect Rolls-Royce's reputation at all cost.

If revenue and sales numbers are not an issue, then RR needs to stick with vehicles equivalent to the Phantom. The EX100 is a good idea. It would be great successor to the Corniche.

The Bentley Continental flying Spur/ Mercedes S65 AMG fighter is a bad decision in my opinion. I think BMW would be better off coming out with the aborted 9-Series luxury sedan (if the idea ever existed).

Rolls-Royce has been and should remain above Bentley.
This move will place them side by side:
Rolls-Royce Phantom = Bentley Arnage
Rolls-Royce production version of EX100 = Bentley Azure
Baby Rolls-Royce = Bentley Continental Flying Spur/ Bentley Continental GT

It dilutes the brand. Rolls-Royce should remain above this. No matter how BMW sugar coats it, I think the whole concept of a "cheaper" Rolls will be scoffed at by its high paying clientele and considered crude.
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So more inexpensive cars dilute brands? Does it work in the other direction, with Chevy having that Corvette the average Chevy fan can't afford?
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So more inexpensive cars dilute brands?

Does it work in the other direction, with Chevy having that Corvette the average Chevy fan can't afford?

[post="28876"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


You're not that dense.
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You're not that dense.

[post="28881"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]

Of course not, but this devil's advocacy is for a reason...
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Of course not, but this devil's advocacy is for a reason...

[post="30560"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


Fine… I’ll use your comparison as the example.

The Corvette is Chevrolet's Halo. It's soooo much of a halo, it's actually a brand unto itself that Chevrolet cherishes deeply.

Rolls-Royce has been the Auto Industry halo for decades. THE FINISH LINE in life's journey so to speak. Bentley served as a more obtainable sister brand, and protected RR from having to go "down market"... but that is no longer the case.

In circumstances like these, the Halo should not move down market to fill the gap between itself and what's beneath it.

Scenario:

Chevrolet places a V6 into the Corvette so a $30k-35k "value" priced Corvette could serve as the bridge between the rest of the Chevrolet line-up and the legendary Corvette.

Heresy? Yes. It would ruin/tarnish everything that "Corvette" stands for. It would be more intelligent for Chevrolet to build another Chevrolet vehicle (Camaro) and push upward to help fill this gap instead of diluting the Corvette image.

-----

By Rolls-Royce moving down market, it dilutes the brand because it changes/destroys (they would prefer I use the word "expands" but no) what the brand stands for = Absolutely No Compromises.

The less expensive RR would have some compromises or there wouldn't be a reason for someone to eventually buy the Phantom. If Rolls-Royce makes them both equal, then the Phantom becomes "over-priced" because you can get everything for over $100k cheaper.

The Cheaper RR models would also be used in comparison tests against SC’d Maseratis, Mercedes V12 S-Classes, Aston Martins, etc etc... which are all quickly approaching the $150k-$200k markets because everyone wants a piece of that growing market. These are far less rarified brands that actually have a chance of WINNING because RR doesn’t have experience in this market and the others already have a strong & loyal clientele aspiring upwards. RR does not have an aspiring clientele moving downwards. Can you imagine a Rolls-Royce getting beat by a Mercedes or Aston Martin when this is said and done? That would be THE END of Rolls-Royce's legendary reputation. It would become just BMW's Ultimate Luxury brand instead of continuing as the Industry's Halo brand.

--------------

So, it’s just in my opinion that it would be better for BMW to be in those competitions with a 9-Series sedan or 8-Series coupe serving as the bridge between BMW & Rolls-Royce. If sales don't meet expectations, BMW can easily absorb the image bruise and make that vehicle into a limited run. Rolls-Royce is too high profile to pull that off because it would leave it with what it already had… the slow selling Phantom.
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The old Silver Seraph was around $200K, I believe.

[post="30595"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


The Silver Seraph was from $230k-$270k (Silver Seraph & the Park Ward limo)
The Bentley Arnage was the one that started right below $200k.
Rolls still had the crown jewel Corinche at $363,000.

That was also 4 years ago... before BMW's direct competitor arrived on scene with Maybach.

The market was different just 5 years ago because there were only a handful of players between $100k-$200k. That market seems to have exploded now with still more players on the way.
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