Speaking to CarAdvice in Austin, Texas, the company’s head of communications for North America Gerry Spahn said there has been great demand for an SUV from existing owners but any vehicle of the type needs to match the characteristics of a Rolls-Royce in terms of design and feel.
“It’s not something we are adverse too, or something that is against the brand,” Spahn said. “We have to have enough demand from owners and then we have to have the right design.”
Asked if there has been enough demand from existing owners, Spahn said “we do have the demand, there’s a call. I have owners yelling at me”.
Rolls-Royce would potentially base any new SUV on the upcoming BMW X7 project, creating a large AWD model that should prove popular in markets such the Middle East and China, as well as the US. The company's Goodwood plant is small in scale, so platform sharing and external production seems a reasonable bet.
The BMW-owned company’s reluctance to move into the ultra-luxury SUV territory segment is centred around the design of the car, no doubt shaken by the overly negative reaction to the Bentley SUV concept, to be called Bentayga in production form.
As such, the British-based manufacturer is currently studying a variety of designs.
“We are looking at designs right now, right now we might do it, we might not do it. We will make a decision on that this year, either to take some action or go in a different direction.”
The BMW X7 is expected to debut next year, which means any Rolls-Royce based vehicle will take at least two to three years from the point of the decision being made.
Interestingly, Rolls Royce doesn’t see its potential vehicle as an SUV per se, preferring instead to focus on its all-wheel drive characteristics. Spahn said the brand will have to create “an all-wheel drive that meets active lifestyle demands that is designed and feels and drives and rides and makes people feel like you’re in a Rolls Royce”.
The move to create a Rolls Royce SUV comes as no surprise with even Lamborghini exploring the opportunity considering the market demand from emerging markets. Mercedes-Maybach also recently detailed its plans to look into SUVs.
Read more about Rolls-Royce's potential SUV here.