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Ghost won’t spook Phantom

Grey Ghost: Rolls-Royce's new 'baby', the V12 Ghost, is selling well at $695,000.

Rolls-Royce expects the smaller limo to help rather than hinder sales of its sibling

30 Oct 2009

ROLLS-ROYCE is confident the all-new entry-level Ghost is boosting interest in the rest of the range.

According to Bevin Clayton, general manager of Rolls-Royce distributor Trivett Classic, while the $695,000 Ghost is drawing a wider spectrum of potential customers into the showroom, some buyers are choosing the larger and more expensive Phantom sedan, or the Phantom-based Coupe or Drophead over the newcomer.

As a result, Mr Clayton believes that the Ghost will not cannibalise overall sales from the others, which start from $1,075,000 for the four-door sedan.

However, he did concede that the early publicity that the Ghost has attracted since its Frankfurt motor show debut in September has had a handful of Phantom buyers go for the cheaper and newer Rolls-Royce instead.

“People who have been looking at Phantom with me have been holding off for Ghost,” Mr Clayton said.

“And of those particular people, I would say that two out of five have decided to stay with Phantom, and the others have decided to go with Ghost, being a smaller car, purely from a day-to-day driving perspective.

50 center image“(But) we are very conscious of doing the Phantom numbers for next year. And the Phantom brand is still the pinnacle product of the Rolls-Royce brand, and people are looking at the Ghost as an extra vehicle rather than a replacement for the Phantom. It is really reaching out to a different market.

“Most certainly, though, for a few reasons, we have had people stopping and waiting for the Ghost over the last few months. But in saying that – if you look at VFACTS – I can tell you that last month we delivered three Phantoms.

“And when you consider that last year we did (a record) 18 Phantom deliveries, to do three in one month is spectacular – and nine (new and used Phantoms) over the last three months in the Phantom family. So even though people have known that the Ghost is coming, it hasn’t really held us up.” Since going ‘on tour’ in Sydney and Melbourne in the final 10 days of October, the Ghost has garnered more than 75 per cent of its 2010 Australian allocation of 40 vehicles.

“We’re up to early 30s in (the number of) expressions of interest after only a week of bringing it down and showing people,” Mr Clayton said.

In fact, due to the strong Melbourne/Victorian interest in the car, the sole Ghost in Australia – a fourth pre-production final prototype made – is spending extra time in the southern capital.

“The car is in Melbourne a little bit longer than we would normally keep in one place because Australia remains a key market and we want to sell more cars,” revealed Rolls-Royce’s general manager for South and East Asia Pacific, Brenda Pek.

In many cases, she said, existing Phantom owners would choose the Ghost as their second vehicle to be used more as a ‘runabout’ or the car that the spouse or other family member would drive.

“We know one owner here in Australia who has a Phantom sedan, he has a Drophead, he has a Coupe for his wife, and he is waiting for a Ghost as well,” Mr Clayton said.

Nevertheless, with an 85 per cent conquest rate, the bulk of Ghost buyers will be new to Rolls-Royce on current expressions of interest data, stepping up from vehicles such as the Mercedes-Benz S-class.

“An S63 is the mid-500s so $695,000 on the road is not the quantum leap that Phantom is. We’ve had top-end Audi people looking too,” Mr Clayton admitted.

As a result, the BMW-controlled Rolls-Royce has set the Ghost up to be far more driver-orientated than the Phantom, with performance and dynamics to reflect a more sport-orientated positioning.

The latest BMW 7 Series was the starting point for the Ghost, but the British-built sedan shares only about 20 per cent of components with the Bavarian luxury sedan.

Under the surprisingly coupe-like silhouette (for a Rolls-Royce) the Ghost features a BMW-developed 6.6-litre direct-injection twin-turbocharged V12 petrol delivering 420kW of power at 5250rpm and 780Nm of torque from 1500rpm. Mated to an eight-speed ZF automatic, it helps the Ghost to hit 100km/h in 4.9 seconds, cover 1km from 0km/h in 23.1s and reach a restricted 250km/h.

“Think of it as the business suit compared to the Phantom’s dinner suit of tuxedo,” Ms Pek quipped.

With production commencing in April and deliveries from about June, the smaller and more driver-focussed ‘RR4’ Ghost has already generated over 11,000 expressions of interest around the world.

Conceding that volume will remain tiny because of the marque’s rarefied pricing and positioning, Ms Pek says that the Ghost will still have a massive effect on Rolls-Royce production, more than doubling existing numbers to 2500 vehicles next year.

“The Ghost will effectively double our world volume,” Ms Pek revealed, adding that the Asia/Pacific region – including China – is driving one-in-four expressions of interesting the Ghost.

The Ghost’s launch timing could not be better for Rolls-Royce, Mr Clayton said, because the high-end luxury market is showing strong signs of rebounding in 2010.

“Selling nine new and used Phantoms over the last three months is a great barometer of the economy. I talk to a lot of people selling luxury brands, and they are all starting to say the same thing.

“So I think the timing couldn’t have been better. If it was a year ago, it would have been a different story … in fact, I wish I could deliver (next year’s Ghost allocation) now.”

Ms Pek added that the factory could cope with rises in Ghost demand should the global economy recovery accelerate sharply over the next few months.

“We have a very flexible production line so we always want to be in line with what the market demands,” she said.

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