Rolls Royce speeds up as competiton chases

Diskutiere Rolls Royce speeds up as competiton chases im Forum Maybach im Bereich S-Klasse, CL, SL & Maybach - GENEVA, March 6 - Engineers employed by German carmaker BMW AG <BMG.DE> are test driving disguised versions of a new Rolls Royce at secret...


F 119 D
GENEVA, March 6 - Engineers employed by German carmaker BMW AG <BMG.DE> are test driving disguised versions of a new Rolls Royce at secret locations across the world, the head of BMW's Rolls Royce unit said.

BMW acquires the right to sell cars branded Rolls Royce next January and hopes to upstage its peers in a sector of the car market so out of reach for most people that it appears to be booming in the middle of a recession.

"Rolls Royce is the premium motor car brand worldwide," the head of BMW's Rolls Royce project, Tony Gott, told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday. "You don't need to explain to anyone what the Rolls Royce is. It just is."

The new Rolls will replace the current Silver Seraph model at a time of increasing innovation among super luxury cars.

BMW's old German rival, Mercedes-Benz -- now the profitable luxury subsidiary of auto giant DaimlerChrysler AG <DCXGn.DE>, is seeking to nip at the heels of Rolls Royce by reviving a forgotten luxury German brand, Maybach.

Mercedes is coyly displaying its Maybach behind grey tinted glass at this week's Geneva motor show. The Rolls Royce has not yet been shown in public.

"There are many (new Rolls Royce) cars running around in cold climates, hot climates, city, country, all over the world," Gott said at the auto show.

Neither the Rolls nor the Maybach is expected to give you much change from about $250,000 and both firms will make only about 1,000 vehicles a year.

For the rich and impatient, the Maybach will go on sale in the autumn while BMW must wait until January 2003 when Volkswagen, the current Rolls Royce maker, cedes the rights.

Volkswagen, which was involved in a legal wrangle with BMW over the brands after buying them in 1998, will continue to make Bentleys at the Rolls Royce and Bentley Motor Cars Ltd factory in Crewe in the English midlands.


That means the only link between the new, BMW-owned, Rolls Royce and the traditional one, apart from the silver statuette above its radiator grille, will be Gott.

The 46-year-old English engineer has worked at the Crewe factory for 17 years and was VW's Rolls Royce chief executive until last November where he said VW pushed the Bentley brand above Rolls Royce, since it knew Rolls was going to BMW.

The Bavarian carmaker has spent 60 million pounds building a new factory in the rolling southern English countryside near Goodwood. It liked the countryside so much, it has put green moss on the roof of the high-tech factory so that it blends in.

"If Henry Royce were alive today and had access to the very best in the world, which he would want to, I'd like to think he'd be very happy with what's going on there," Gott said.

He was reluctant to give away much about the car, but said it would be instantly recognisable.

"The Rolls Royce has always been a classic car, ever since the 10 horsepower of 1904," he said. "They are always collectable, they always stand the test of time."

The Maybach, by contrast, is styled like a modern saloon car or a very big version of the Mercedes S-Class.

Gott, who looks the part of a Rolls Royce chief in an English pinstripe suit, said he was sure the Maybach would do very well but he did not fear the competition.

"They are a player in that sector, but I don't know whether their customers will be the same customers," he said. "I don't know that it will appeal to the same set of criteria that the Rolls Royce would."

As if to rub in such polite English disdain, he said he would not even walk across the hall to look at the Maybach.

"No I haven't seen it, and won't go and look," he said. "I always told people at Crewe, don't worry about what the others are doing, and I am exactly the same at Rolls."
Thema: Rolls Royce speeds up as competiton chases