For so long Rolls-Royce has enjoyed a near unchallenged image of absolute prestige and riches. The luxury brand currently sells just the Phantom model in Australia, with a price tag of just under a million (for the standard and over a million for the Long Wheel Base).
Rolls-Royce Australia sold four Phantom (Drop-head coupes - video below) last year (with another 8 ordered). So far just 36 owners have purchased the standard Phantom in Australia, so you can see why Rolls-Royce is the ultimate in prestige and luxury motoring. Australian owners include the likes Jown Laws (Radio) and transport tycoon Lindsay Fox.
However with production of only 800 cars a year, keeping a company such as Rolls-Royce alive requires more funds. The battle between BMW and Volkswagen for the brands ownership ended with BMW as the owner and now the Germans have pushed for a "mini" Rolls-Royce.
Rolls expects the new car to retail for around $700,000 AUD, ($300,000 cheaper than the Phantom). The idea is to expand the potential Rolls-Royce owners club.
Research conducted by the manufacturer shows that only around 500 Australians could logically afford a Rolls-Royce Phantom (80,000 worldwide - 40,000 in US - 12,000 in Europe and8,000 in Japan).
"They have between $US25m and $US30m ($30m to $36m) in disposable income, they have three or four houses, some of them have a large yacht, 35% to 40% have a jet aircraft, and typically they travel the world." Rolls-Royce chairman and CEO Ian Robertson told The Bulletin
So just how many more people can afford a car that costs $700,000? About 8 million worldwide, and nearly 150,000 aussies. In oder to meet demand, production will increase to 1600 units by 2010.
The new car will most likely be smaller than the Phantom, perhaps the same size as the Bentley Continental Flying Spur or Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Rolls Royce confirms the design has been approved internally with an official unveiling in late late 2009.
Logically, it would make sense to speculate the new Rolls will share the BMW 7 Series platform, most likely the new 7-series which is expected around the same time.