Not even a traditional luxury car manufacturer like Rolls-Royce can resist change, and the best example is the fact that the carmaker launched its first SUV, the Cullinan, last year.
But change for Rolls-Royce goes deeper than welcoming a sports utility vehicle into the lineup. For example, more and more owners drive the cars themselves instead of hiring a chauffeur as it used to be customary for a Rolls.
This phenomenon is acknowledged (and we’d dare say, encouraged) by the company itself. CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös recently told Australian media that owners are ditching the private chauffeur driver in increasing numbers and drive the cars themselves.
Coincidence or (most likely) not, this has come to be as Rolls-Royce’s clientele has grown significantly in recent years. “We are very much a self-driver’s brand nowadays. We might have formerly been chauffeur-driven, but that has completely changed,” Müller-Ötvös told Motoring.
“The minority of cars we sell are for chauffeurs, with the exception of maybe the Phantom in long wheelbase form. Everything else is purely driver’s cars,” he added. The times they are a-changin’ indeed.
Rolls-Royce has been actively seeking to bring younger buyers (you might as well call them “new money”) to the brand, and has been successful in this endeavor, as the average Rolls-Royce buyer right now is in their early forties.
These affluent, active owners like to drive themselves, especially if they own sportier “Black Badge” models, Wraith or Dawn two-door models, or even a Cullinan. Or, probably, particularly the Cullinan, as traditional, chauffer-driven customers would fret at the idea of a Rolls-badged SUV. Call us narrow-minded if you will, but we totally sympathize with them.
Nevertheless, Müller-Ötvös believes the expansion of the company’s customer base has coincided with a shift in preferences. “Younger people are prepared to spend the money they make and they are floating it into luxury goods, which is great.”
Note: Bespoke Rolls-Royce Phantom “Gentleman’s Tourer” pictured