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Rolls-Royce adds new Aussie dealer

Open for business: Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Queensland CEO Steve Kelly (right) and general manager Asia Pacific, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Dan Balmer at the opening of the new dealership on the Gold Coast.

Sunshine State gets Rolls-Royce dealer as company moots Australian expansion

1 Oct 2013

ROLLS-ROYCE this week announced plans for its first Queensland dealership as part of a drive to boost national sales on the back of the new Wraith super-coupe, and probable expansion into the SUV market later in the decade.

The site is owned by Sunshine Automotive and is located in the Southport area of the Gold Coast. It joins existing sites in Sydney and Melbourne, with a built-from-the-ground-up Perth dealer to open in 2015.

It also adds to Sunshine Automotive's existing stable of premium brands that includes fellow British-based car-makers Aston Martin and Jaguar, as well as Volvo and Renault.

The new Gold Coast site will follow in the footsteps of Trivett's Rolls-Royce dealership in Melbourne by sharing floorspace with Aston Martin when the full showroom opens in the second quarter of 2014.

The Gold Coast dealership will service Brisbane, regional Queensland and potentially surrounding states and territories that are not currently covered by a Rolls-Royce dealer. Both the Perth and Gold Coast sites are open for customer enquiry prior to the showrooms being finalised.

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Queensland CEO Steve Kelly told us this week that all four Australian dealers have a close working relationship and would continue to collaborate well in the future.

“We have got a great relationship with Perth, Sydney and Melbourne,” he said. “We have known each other for 20 years so we trust and respect each other and we work well with each other in trying to make sure we deliver customer's expectations.” Rolls-Royce general manager for Asia Pacific Dan Balmer said he was encouraged by the close dealer network collaboration, as it is something Rolls-Royce looks for, particularly considering the high-end brand's clients regularly move across the country.

Mr Balmer said the British marque was happy with the current spread of dealers in Australia, and the addition of any new dealerships beyond Queensland was unlikely, for now.

“Here is where we stop for now, I think,” he said. “We have looked at the country spread and we think we are covering the geography quite well with our current range of cars and where we sit in the marketplace.” The brand's local line-up was recently boosted by the addition of the two-door Wraith coupe that launched in August, with a drive-away price of $645,000 matching that of the Ghost sedan on which it is based.

Mr Balmer said the first demonstrator Wraiths are arriving in Sydney and Perth now, with dealers now able to follow-up with potential buyers who expressed early interest in the uber-luxury coupe.

“It's a driver's car and quite rightly people are saying they want to drive the car and we have got a few orders in the bag based on the reaction of seeing the car, which is a stunning looking machine when you see it in the flesh.

“But the car itself begs to be driven and certainly some of our customers are saying 'let me drive the car', and they can do that from this week,” he said, While Mr Balmer confirmed there have already been a number of orders put down for the Wraith from buyers who have not driven the car, he would not divulge how many, only saying he was “very encouraged by the reaction in Australia, as we expected”.

The strong interest in the Wraith since its official launch seems to have had a flow-on effect to other models in the line-up, with Mr Balmer confirming increased interest in the Ghost.

“People come to us enticed by seeing the new car and are reminded we have other cars on offer. For example, we have seen cross-selling onto Ghost because people have come to see the Wraith and thought 'well, I love the look of the car and performance is fine, but I want more space in the back' or whatever their requirement is, so we have seen some interest increasing in that area as well.” Rolls-Royce also looks set to follow arch-rival Bentley's lead by developing a high-end SUV after CEO Torsten Mueller-Oetvoes told media at the Frankfurt motor show last month the BMW-owned company was “intensively thinking about entering the SUV segment”.

Mr Balmer said nothing had been confirmed in terms of a potential SUV for the upper-luxury brand, but a high-riding wagon is being considered.

“We look at all kinds of different model derivatives and types. I think the Wraith is testament that we are willing to try new things, and Wraith is the highest-performing Rolls-Royce that has ever been so that is a sign we are willing to look at new ideas.

“And all body types and discussions are in consideration, but nothing has been confirmed yet.” Mr Balmer said Australia was a key market for the Wraith as it is a more driver-focussed offering, but an SUV would be looked at for the Asia Pacific region, if it got the green light.

“Any of our markets we look after, we could be asked in the future what we think in terms of taking on that type of car. Certainly, we think with Wraith launching this year, Australia will be a key market for us because it is a driver's car. SUV and other body types, we will just have to take that on its own merit.”

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