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More affordable RR4 to quadruple sales

Upper crust: A new entry-level Rolls-Royce model will emerge in 2010.

Rolls-Royce plans sub-$500K baby brother for Phantom, but it'll still dwarf a 7 Series

13 Sep 2007

A NEW, “more affordable” Rolls-Royce model is expected to increase the hallowed British brand’s sales by three to four times from 2010.

Rolls-Royce Asia Pacific regional director Colin Kelly told GoAuto last week that the new smaller model, codenamed RR4, would significantly boost annual volumes of the luxury car maker and would carry a recommended retail price of somewhere between $400,000 and $500,000.

Currently, the cheapest Rolls-Royce is the Phantom, which starts from $915,000.

“If you look at where we are positioned and, for argument’s sake, where the Bentley range is, there is a fairly significant price gap. We think we can fill that with the RR4 family,” said Mr Kelly.

The RR4 will not be as large as the 5834mm-long and 2550kg Phantom, but it will not be compact either.

“Some people call the RR4 the baby Rolls-Royce – it’s a big baby,” Mr Kelly said.

He said the model would bring new customers to the Rolls-Royce brand.

“Our hypothesis is that it is a car that is driven every day. It will be an easier graduation from an S-Class or a 7 Series. It would be the obvious next step up,” he said.

Mr Kelly said the fact that the new RR4 would be smaller than the Phantom would also attract customers who found that car simply too big.

“We had people in some countries like Japan, where garage space is clearly at a premium, who didn’t buy a car because they didn’t have enough room for it and space is at such a premium,” he said. “So they will have this.” The decision to build a smaller, cheaper Rolls-Royce may raise some eyebrows at the rich end of town, and especially among existing Phantom owners.

Mr Kelly admitted that even he had reservations, but is convinced the new car will be good for the brand.

“I didn’t know what to think. We had established the brand with the Phantom and I thought, ‘Now what are we going to do? Will it be a real Rolls-Royce?’ “It is,” he said. “It complements what we have now - it doesn’t fight with it.” Mr Kelly said the RR4 would be successful because the Phantom had re-established the Rolls-Royce brand since it was bought by BMW.

The question remains, though, as to whether the cheaper RR4 could damage or dilute the famous Rolls-Royce brand.



50 center imageLeft: Phantom.



“There is risk in anything, but I don’t think so,” he told GoAuto. “We had to establish the pinnacle position for the brand which we have done. We don’t see anything at a higher pinnacle than the Phantom.

“We should sell considerably more (of the RR4) than the Phantom, but we will never be a mass producer. Even if our numbers may go up three or four times it will still be crucial to know people by their first names, offering that personal touch, personal contact, because these price ranges are pretty high,” he said.

Mr Kelly added that he saw the RR4 in the flesh for the first time three months ago sitting next to a Phantom and the 100EX and 101EX Phantom-based concept cars.

“If you came in there it would look like four brothers sitting there, not identical but you could tell they are all related. They are all Rolls-Royces,” he said.

The RR4 is expected to further reduce the average age of Rolls-Royce customers, which has already dropped significantly since the Phantom was released in 2003.

“It is in the high 40s or low 50s. It has dropped about 10 years in about the last three years which is quite an achievement,” said Mr Kelly.

He said the Phantom attracted a large number of people to the brand who had never considered a Rolls-Royce, or rejected the brand because it was seen to be out-of-date.

“When we started out we knew there were people who were friends of the brand anyway. They were what my old boss called the low hanging fruit - they were the easy ones. Approximately 50 per cent of the order book are people who have never owned a Rolls-Royce before,” he said.

Mr Kelly was in Australia last week to launch the Phantom Drophead convertible.

The $1.95 million cabriolet is produced at the Rolls-Royce factory at Goodwood in England, although it uses an engine and aluminium chassis made in Germany.

Mr Kelly said the new RR4 would also be made at the Sussex plant, which is being upgraded.

“We are in the process of modifying the factory to accommodate a second production line,” he said. “The Phantom family will be made on one line and the RR4 family will be made on the other.” An all-new Phantom is due to arrive in 2013.

Read more:

Drophead gorgeous: New Roller flagship hits Oz

First look: Flip-top Roller close to 100EX


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