Rolls-Royce posts 117-year sales record as world struggles with COVID

The top end of town rewarded themselves to a record number of new Rolls-Royce cars last year, achieving the highest sales in the history of the brand amid a global pandemic that has cost countless lives and jobs.

British super-luxury brand Rolls-Royce – owned by German automotive giant BMW since 1998 – has posted its highest annual sales in the 117-year history of the company, as the world grappled with job losses amid the deadly coronavirus crisis.

Buoyed by demand for its first-ever SUV – called the Cullinan – Rolls-Royce finished 2021 reporting more than 5500 new vehicles as sold globally.

Two-thirds of the vehicles – a mix of luxury sedans and SUVs – were sold in China and the USA. 

The Rolls-Royce global sales tally for 2021 was 49 per cent higher than the previous year’s total, and eclipsed the previous record of 5100 set in 2019.

“It is very much due to COVID that the entire luxury business is booming worldwide,” the global boss of Rolls-Royce, Torsten Müller-Ötvös (pictured at the top of this story), told The Guardian newspaper in the UK. 

“People couldn’t travel a lot, they couldn’t invest a lot into luxury services … and there is quite a lot of money accumulated that is spent on luxury goods.”

“We profited from that development,” the Rolls-Royce executive told the Reuters news agency.

The British factory is running at close to maximum capacity, and delivery times stretched up to 12 months, said Torsten Müller-Ötvös.

“If you order a Rolls-Royce today, you will expect to take delivery of it about a year from now,” he told Reuters.

Rolls-Royce has more than doubled its global new vehicle sales over the past decade.

Previously a niche brand, Rolls-Royce sold fewer than 1000 new vehicles globally in a calendar year prior to 2007.

In Australia, Rolls-Royce reported as sold 48 new motor vehicles in 2021, down slightly from the record of 55 deliveries in 2019.

While the current Rolls-Royce showroom line-up is powered by gas-guzzling V12 engines, the company has pledged to switch solely to electric power by the end of the year 2030.

The first Rolls-Royce electric car in the modern era – called the Spectre – is due on sale in late 2023.

Rolls-Royce says electric-car testing has already begun, including a 2.5‑million-kilometre journey which extends “to all four corners of the world (to) simulate more than 400 years of use for a Rolls‑Royce.”

Rolls-Royce sales in Australia

  • 2021: 48
  • 2020: 42
  • 2019: 55
  • 2018: 40
  • 2017: 45
  • 2016: 37
  • 2015: 30
  • 2014: 39
  • 2013: 16
  • 2012: 22
  • 2011: 20
  • 2010: 25
  • 2009: 9
  • 2008: 17
  • 2007: 17
  • 2006: 12
  • 2005: 10
  • 2004: 8
  • 2003: 1
  • 2002: 5
  • 2001: 3
  • 2000: 2
  • 1999: 9
  • 1998: 15

Source: Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries.

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