Rolls-Royce rides success in China, releasing new ‘Dragon’ car
Rolls-Royce has its sights set on China. The high-end carmaker has discovered incredible success in the Asian nation, which helped drive 2011 sales to the highest point in the brand’s history. Last year, China outperformed the Unite States as the luxury car company’s biggest market, reported The Wall Street Journal.
Despite the fact that Rolls-Royce only expanded into China in 2003, China represents 30 percent of the carmaker’s international sales, at 3,538 cars during 2011. The sales volume is additionally remarkable due to the hefty added costs of steep import duties and luxury taxes.
“China has emerged so quickly. We are very pleased,” Torsten Müller-Ötvös, CEO of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, said in an interview in Hong Kong, noting that sales in Greater China (which encompasses Taiwan and Hong Kong) increased nearly 60 percent in 2011.
Instead of displaying the latest models at the Detroit Auto Show, Rolls-Royce managers are busy touring Asia to check out the new exploding market.
Beijing and Shanghai have emerged as the sites of the top-performing dealerships, outpacing Beverly Hills and London, the previously best-selling locations. Hong Kong has become the destination with the greatest concentration of Rolls-Royces around the globe.
Müller-Ötvös believes the cars are being bought by “the captains of industry and self-made entrepreneurs who are highly educated, who went to schools in foreign countries, and who are now rewarding themselves.” The average Chinese consumer of the cars is between 30 and 40 years old, below the age of the usual buyer from other nations.
Rolls-Royce has expressly crafted its vehicles to resonate in the Chinese market. Its first effort transformed its extended wheelbase Phantom to accommodate the Chinese preference for more spacious, chauffeur-driven cars. A more recent project was a collection of limited edition vehicles in honor of the Year of the Dragon. Available for more than $1 million a pop, the new line has already sold out.
Inspired by the magical creature so venerated in China, the Year of the Dragon Collection honors this symbol of power, prosperity and good fortune.
“At Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, we delight in bringing new, exclusive designs to our customers,” Müller-Ötvös said in a statement. “The Bespoke team elegantly captures the imagination with this Year of the Dragon Collection, celebrating the turning of a New Year of prosperity and good fortune with this unique creative offering.”
The car is decorated with a handpainted golden dragon positioned on the side, recalling Beijing’s Forbidden City. The dragon is also echoed on the leather headrest, handembroidered in tan, golden sand, black and white, plus a dragon inlay is displayed on the passenger panel.
Inside, the car features handstitched cushions, embroidered with the Rolls-Royce logo, and the door sills boast lighted treadplates proclaiming “Year of the Dragon 2012.”
Customers may choose either modern or conventional marquetry to accompany their veneer option, which is then handpositioned in the veneer.
“Once you want to be driven in the most comfortable and luxurious way, you will want a Rolls,” Müller-Ötvös said. “It’s like riding a magic carpet.”