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Rolls-Royce mulls adding to Ghost model line

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Rolls-Royce mulls adding to Ghost model line

September 21, 2010 06:01 CET

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BERLIN (Bloomberg) -- Rolls-Royce plans to expand the Ghost model line to help the ultraluxury nameplate double unit sales.

“I'm quite confident that we're going to see a Ghost derivative to come,” Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Mueller-Oetvoes said in an interview at the carmaker's headquarters in Goodwood, England. “There's still a lot of potential in the market” for a less formal Rolls model.

The $245,000 Ghost, which went on sale last year, is Rolls-Royce's second product line after the Phantom, which starts at $380,000.

Even with its cheaper price tag, the smaller model, which is 5400mm (17.7 feet) in length, will boost operating profit, Mueller-Oetvoes said.

The Ghost has spurred growth for the exclusive marque after the financial crisis depressed sales 17 percent in 2009.

Rolls-Royce delivered 1,467 cars through August, already surpassing the record since BMW took over in 1998 of 1,212 cars sold in all of 2008. The company aims to sell at least 2,000 cars in 2010, after delivering 1,002 last year.

Embroidered eagle

“Rolls-Royce has always been a really super premium brand and BMW has kept them at the top of the market,” said Jonathan Poskitt, a UK-based analyst at J.D. Power and Associates. “The rich are still rich, and that end of the market is driven in some sense by what models are available.”

Rolls-Royce's factory, which occupies a corner of the aristocratic estate that hosts the annual Festival of Speed motoring event, currently produces about 12 Ghosts a day and 3 Phantoms, spokesman Andrew Ball said.

Rolls-Royce, which competes with Volkswagen AG's Bentley and Daimler AG's Maybach, is known for its hand-craftsmanship and what enthusiasts call a “magic carpet” ride because of the car's smooth on-the-road handling.

BMW bought the rights to Rolls-Royce cars for 45 million pounds ($70 million) in 1998 and re-launched the brand at a new factory in 2003.

Production moved to Goodwood after Rolls-Royce Group Plc sold the Bentley brand and the Crewe factory, where both cars had been built, to VW, a deal that left BMW short of a production site for Rolls-Royce cars.

Workers spend 17 days to make a typical Phantom, fitting 50 square meters (540 square feet) of leather onto the seats and consoles. Time is added for special items. For instance, one customer requested an embroidered eagle head on the headrests, which took 32 hours to perfect.

“You can get machines to do this work, but it takes the soul out of the car,” said Timothy Harman, a manager in Rolls- Royce's leather shop, which employs about 130 people.

$19,600 picnic hamper

While Phantom demand has yet to recover to pre-recession levels, more customers are adding their own features, such as a 15,000 euro ($19,600), four-person picnic hamper.

The bespoke customization program won't be open for the Ghost until next year. Buyers have dreamt up options such as leather dog mats, diamond-encrusted emblems and wood veneer from a specific tree.

Buoying demand for luxury cars, Wall Street firms are adding jobs for the first time in two years.

Senior managers, excluding those whose pay is disclosed in company proxies, may get a 5 percent to 10 percent increase in bonuses this year, according to August estimates by compensation consultant Johnson Associates Inc.

Bentley lifted deliveries by 11 percent to 2,489 vehicles in the first half. Daimler aimed to sell more than 1,000 Maybachs a year when it reintroduced the 1930s-era marque in 2002. Sales topped out at 600 cars in 2003 and Daimler delivered 200 Maybach vehicles to customers last year. A Maybach starts at about $350,000 and its Zeppelin goes for more than $600,000.

22-year veteran

The financial crisis has added to demand for customization on Rolls-Royce interiors as the wealthy seek to make their consumption less conspicuous, Mueller-Oetvoes said. Items include a roof liner that simulates a starlit sky and embroidery on headrests.

“We see quite a lot of bespoke in the interior of the car -- much more than in the past -- so something that is a bit more disguised and not perceivable by everybody looking at the cars,” said Mueller-Oetvoes, a 22-year BMW veteran who took over as Rolls-Royce CEO in April.

“Everybody looks for some details that make the car his or her personal car.”

Rolls-Royce CEO Mueller-Oetvoes wants customer feedback before deciding on Ghost derivatives.

Mueller-Oetvoes was in charge of brand and product development for Mini between 2000 and 2003, overseeing the relaunch of the small car.

He headed marketing and branding for BMW from 2004 and took over global product management in 2008.

Chinese expansion

The CEO said he is awaiting more feedback from customers before deciding on a timeframe and style for future Ghost derivatives.

Much of Rolls-Royce's growth has come from China, which will surpass the UK this year as its second-largest market after the United States.

Mueller-Oetvoes plans to selectively add dealers in China, India, the Middle East and the United States to further boost sales. Still, Rolls-Royce will remain exclusive.

“We will definitely not end off in the tens of thousands of units,”

Mueller-Oetvoes said. “That's not the right strategy for us.

Rolls-Royce always needs to stay very exclusive. We only build a car when there is a customer behind it.”

Read more: http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100921/ANE/100929999/1131#ixzz10B4r8Apb

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Report: Rolls-Royce to expand Ghost line

by Zach Bowman (RSS feed) on Sep 21st 2010 at 4:01PM

It sounds like Rolls-Royce is looking to pull a few more Ghosts out of its hat. According to Bloomberg, the company has its eyes on doubling sales figures in a hurry, and part of that plan may involve more variants of the Baby Roller. As the second model line in the company's stable, the Ghost has done plenty to generate growth for the company, primarily due to its smaller size and (slightly) more accessible price tag. The Ghost starts at $245,000, while the next step up, the Phantom, hits luxury buyers for a less manageable $380,000.

Rolls-Royce is currently producing around three Ghosts for every Phantom, thanks largely to increased interest in the brand from China. China has already moved up to become the company's second biggest market after the U.S. – a slot formerly occupied by the UK.

Bloomberg didn't offer much in the way of details as to what to expect from any upcoming Ghost variants, so full-line Rolls collectors will want to keep their Dom Perignon on ice for the moment. Stay tuned.



Rolls-Royce Planning to Expand Ghost Lineup with New Derivative


Rolls-Royce is planning a derivative of its Ghost uber-luxury sedan. The Ghost, which starts at US$245,000, is the 'baby' brother of the US$380,000 Phantom.

"I'm quite confident that we're going to see a Ghost derivative to come," said the British automaker's CEO, Torsten Mueller-Oetvoes in an interview reported by Bloomberg. "There's still a lot of potential in the market."

Mueller-Oetvoes would not elaborate on what the derivative would be, but hinted there may be more than one. The company is awaiting more feedback from its customers before committing to a bodystyle and timeframe for launch.

Rolls-Royce also announced that it is expanding its operations in China (the brand's biggest market after the United States), India and the Middle East. In spite of this, Mueller-Oetvoes has assured buyers that the brand will remain exclusive:

"We will definitely not end off in the tens of thousands of units. That's not the right strategy for us. Rolls-Royce always needs to stay very exclusive. We only build a car when there is a customer behind it."

Rolls-Royce suffered a 17% drop in sales in 2009 due to the global financial crisis. With the market now in recovery, Rolls aims to sell at least 2,000 cars in 2010. To date, the automaker has sold 1,467 cars worldwide, trailing Volkswagen-owned Bentley which had 2,489. Much of the growth has been attributed to the Ghost, which went on sale late last year.



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By Mark Kleis

Rolls-Royce suffered a dismal year in 2009 with sales down 17 percent, but the luxury automaker is on pace to nearly double its sales in 2010 - with an even more ambitious plan for the future.

During an interview at the Rolls-Royce headquarters in Goodwood, England, CEO Torsten Mueller-Oetvoes told Bloomberg that there is a strong chance for a third model in the near future, a model aimed at a lower price point than even the recently introduced Ghost.

The Rolls-Royce Ghost starts at $245,000, which may sound like a small fortune, but it is actually a fair amount cheaper than the range-topping Phantom, coming in at a pricey $380,000.

Now, Torsten says that the brand is looking to further improve its operating profit, and it believes the best way to do that is to tap the market somewhere between where the Ghost is currently positioned and BMW's range-topping 7-Series.

"I'm quite confident that we're going to see a Ghost derivative to come," said Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Mueller-Oetvoes. "There's still a lot of potential in the market [for a less expensive model]."

Recent sales history recap

When BMW purchased Rolls-Royce for a bargain price of $70 million in 1998, the brand wasn't particularly strong and had a very low volume. since acquiring the brand, BMW re-launched Rolls-Royce with a new factory in 2003, and recently has begun to enjoy strong growth. Prior to 2010, Rolls-Royce's best year since the BMW takeover consisted of 1,212 sales in 2008, but so far this year the brand has already moved 1,467 units, and is on pace to break 2,000 units.

For some additional perspective, Rolls-Royce sold just 1,002 cars in 2009 - meaning the brand is on pace to double unit sales in a single year.

Growth is good, but too much is not

Although many automaker strive to ever increase their volume to higher and higher levels, Torsten also cautioned that although the brand is looking to expand beyond its current levels and market positioning, the brand realizes the importance of retaining exclusivity.

"We will definitely not end off in the tens of thousands of units," said the Rolls-Royce CEO. "That's not the right strategy for us. Rolls-Royce always needs to stay very exclusive. We only build a car when there is a customer behind it."



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