Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited is a British luxury automobile maker. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited operates from purpose-built administrative and production facilities opened in 2003 across from the historic Goodwood Circuit in Goodwood, West Sussex, England, United Kingdom. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited is the exclusive manufacturer of Rolls-Royce branded motor cars since 2003.
Although the Rolls-Royce brand has been in use since 1906, the Rolls-Royce Motor Cars subsidiary of BMW AG has no direct relationship to Rolls-Royce-branded vehicles produced prior to 2003 other than being a major engine and other supplier prior to 2003. The Bentley Motors Limited subsidiary of Volkswagen AG is the direct successor to Rolls-Royce Motors and various other predecessor entities that produced Rolls-Royce and Bentley branded cars between the foundation of each company and 2003, when the BMW-controlled entity started producing cars under the Rolls-Royce brand.
The Rolls-Royce Phantom four-door sedan was the first product offered for sale in 2003. Since then, the company has expanded its product line to include extended wheelbase, two-door coupé, and convertible versions of the Phantom Sedan, as well as the smaller Ghost four-door sedan, Wraith two-door coupé, Dawn Convertible, and the Cullinan SUV.
Spirit of Ecstasy, the bonnet ornament sculpture on Rolls-Royce cars
Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited was created as a wholly owned subsidiary of BMW in 1998 after BMW licensed the rights to the Rolls-Royce brand name and logo from Rolls-Royce Holdings plc, and acquired the rights to the Spirit of Ecstasy and Rolls-Royce grille shape trademarks from Volkswagen AG. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited has been manufacturing Rolls-Royce branded cars since 2003.
Although the Rolls-Royce brand has been in use since 1906, the fate of the brand diverged between 1998 and 2003. In 2003, the Rolls-Royce Motor Cars subsidiary of BMW AG, which had been a major supplier to the brand up to 2003, began manufacturing vehicles with the Rolls Royce name. Volkswagen AG took ownership of the Bentley name as well as previous Rolls Royce production facilities and previous Rolls Royce designs.
Current chief executive Torsten Müller-Ötvös joined the company in January 2010, with a pledge to regain the quality standards that made Rolls-Royce famous. That year sales in China increased by 600%, making it the company’s second largest market after the US.
Ownership and licensing of trademarks
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In 1998, Vickers decided to sell Rolls-Royce Motors. The most likely buyer was BMW, which already supplied engines and other components for Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars, but BMW’s final offer of £340 million was beaten by Volkswagen’s £430 million.
A stipulation in the ownership documents of Rolls-Royce dictated that Rolls-Royce Holdings plc, the aero-engine maker, would retain certain essential trademarks, including the Rolls-Royce name and logo if the automotive division was sold. Although Vickers plc sold the vehicle designs, nameplates, administrative headquarters, production facilities, Spirit of Ecstasy and Rolls-Royce grille shape trademarks to Volkswagen AG, Rolls-Royce plc chose to license the Rolls-Royce name and logo to BMW AG for £40 million, because Rolls-Royce plc had recently had joint business ventures with BMW.
BMW’s contract to supply engines and components to Rolls-Royce Motors allowed BMW to cancel the contract with 12 months’ notice. Volkswagen would be unable to re-engineer the Rolls-Royce and Bentley vehicles to use other engines within that time frame. With the Rolls-Royce brand identification marks split between the two companies and Volkswagen’s engine supply in jeopardy, the two companies entered into negotiations.
Volkswagen agreed to sell BMW the Spirit of Ecstasy and grille shape trademarks and BMW agreed to continue supplying engines and components until 2003. Volkswagen continued to produce Rolls-Royce branded vehicles between 1998 and 2003. This gave BMW time to build a new Rolls-Royce administrative headquarters and production facility on the Goodwood Estate near Chichester, West Sussex, and develop the Phantom, the first Rolls-Royce from the new company. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited became the exclusive manufacturer of Rolls-Royce branded cars in 2003. Rolls-Royce announced in September 2014 that a new technology and logistics centre will be built, due to open in 2016, 8 miles away from the main headquarters, in the seaside resort town of Bognor Regis.
Main article: Rolls-Royce Phantom (eighth generation)Rolls-Royce Phantom 8th Generation
- Rolls-Royce unveiled a new Phantom at “The Great Eight Phantoms Exhibit”, which would go into production at the end of 2017, with sales starting in 2018. This is the current Flagship Model and the most expensive production car made by Rolls Royce Motor Cars.
Main article: Rolls Royce GhostRolls-Royce Ghost Second Generation
- From 2010 – Ghost 4-door sedan. Rolls-Royce announced in September 2006 that it would develop a new four-door model named Ghost. The Ghost will be smaller than the previous Rolls-Royce automobile launched, the Phantom. Only 20% of the components would be sourced from BMW F01 7 Series, and it will be positioned below the Phantom.
- On 4 March 2014, the new Ghost Series II was revealed to the public at the Geneva Motor Show. It has a facelift front with new LED headlights. The interior has had an update as well.
Main article: Rolls Royce WraithRolls-Royce Wraith
- From 2013 – Wraith coupé. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars launched a new car at the Geneva Motor Show on 5 March 2013. The new car, named the Rolls-Royce Wraith (in honour of the original Wraith built by the original Rolls-Royce Limited from 1938 to 1939) is a luxury coupe, with a long bonnet and a sleek roof line, and is a coupe version of the Ghost. It is powered by a 623 bhp, twin-turbocharged V12 engine connected to an eight-speed gearbox. Deliveries were expected to begin by the end of 2013. Rolls-Royce had stated that the Wraith would be the most powerful Rolls-Royce motor car to that date.
Main article: Rolls-Royce DawnRolls-Royce Dawn
- From 2015 – Dawn 4-seater convertible. It was announced in time for the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show.
Main article: Rolls Royce CullinanRolls-Royce Cullinan
- After much anticipation, Rolls-Royce revealed the Cullinan in early 2018. The 5-door SUV shares the “Architecture of Luxury” platform and many components with the Phantom.
Main article: Rolls-Royce Phantom (seventh generation)Main article: Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead CoupéMain article: Rolls-Royce Phantom CoupéMain article: Rolls-Royce SweptailRolls-Royce PhantomRolls-Royce Phantom coupé
- 2003–2016 – Phantom 4-door sedan. Launched in January 2003 at Detroit’s North American International Auto Show, this is the first model from Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited. The car has a 6.75 L V12 engine sourced from BMW, but most components are unique to the car. Parts are sourced from Continental Europe and the UK. Assembly, leatherwork, woodwork, and finishing are carried out in a new factory in Goodwood near Chichester, Sussex.
- 2005–2016 – Rolls-Royce Phantom Extended Wheelbase. This car’s wheelbase is 250 mm longer than that of the standard Phantom sedan.
- 2007–2016 – Phantom Drophead Coupé (convertible)
- 2008–2016 – Phantom Coupé
- 2017 – Rolls-Royce Sweptail was a one-off custom Phantom Coupé sold for $12.8 million after a 4-year build  making it the most expensive new car ever sold at the time.
- Rolls-Royce 100EX (2006)
- Rolls-Royce 101EX (2006)
- Rolls-Royce Hyperion (2008)
- Rolls-Royce Mini (June 2009)
- Rolls-Royce 200EX (2009; known as ″RR04″ also)
- Rolls-Royce 102EX (2010)
- Rolls-Royce 103EX (2016)
- Rolls Royce Boat Tail (2021) is a custom-built concept car based on its predecessor, the Sweptail. Production limited to three units.
The all-time high record of sales (beginning in 2005) was achieved in 2014, at 4,063 cars, topping 2016 sales by 52 cars. In 2011, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited sold 3,538 cars, an increase of 31 percent compared to 2010, beating the previous sales record from 1978. The strong sales growth occurred in the Asia Pacific region, Britain and the Middle East with sales increases of 47 percent, 30 percent and 23 percent respectively.
|Calendar year||Total sales|
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- ^ “ROLLS-ROYCE MOTOR CARS CELEBRATES SECOND HIGHEST SALES RECORD IN MARQUE’S 112-YEAR HISTORY”. Forbes. 1 March 2017.
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- ^ “Subscribe to read”. Financial Times. Retrieved 12 January 2019. Cite uses generic title (help)
- Richard Feast, Kidnap of the Flying Lady: How Germany Captured Both Rolls Royce and Bentley, Motorbooks (2003), ISBN 978-0760316863
- John Rowland and Martin Henley, The Rolls-Royce Men: The Story of Charles Rolls and Henry Royce, Publisher: Lutterworth Press (1968); ASIN: B000COH9WQ
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