Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 25 March 2018

Abu Dhabi Rolls-Royce takes luxury to another level

With an unmatched total of 20 Global Awards in 14 years, Abu Dhabi Motors remains the most successful Rolls Royce dealer globally

Arno Hussellmann, the general manager of Abu Dhabi Motors, which sells Rolls-Royce and BMW models in the capital. Victor Besa / The National
Arno Hussellmann, the general manager of Abu Dhabi Motors, which sells Rolls-Royce and BMW models in the capital. Victor Besa / The National

The UAE is practically synonymous with luxury cars and the capital is home to the most successful dealership of the Grand Dame of high-end motoring Rolls-Royce or, as Arno Husselmann, general manager of Abu Dhabi Motors refers to it, "simply the best car in the world".

Rolls-Royce has for more than a century been the benchmark for automotive excellence and the company's latest development is testament to its confidence in the range.

"We are doing something very unique right now," says Mr Husselmann. "Up until now Rolls-Royce had a four-year unlimited mileage service contract – from this month we are now offering a nine-year unlimited mileage service contract, the first in the world, nobody has ever done this before."

That is quite a promise; buy a new Roller and, should you fancy, you could drive it as much as is humanly possible, week in, week out, safe in the knowledge that for almost a decade you will not have to pay a penny for repairs and maintenance.

"It is peace of mind for the customer," says Mr Husselmann. Maintenance is a major concern for any owner of a high-end vehicle and he says by taking that concern away the customer and the company will benefit.

"This will put us at a higher level again, we understand our customer’s needs and I think this guarantee will have a huge impact on our business," says Mr Husselmann.



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And while cars like Rolls-Royces don't really depreciate, as the package belongs to the car and not the driver, should it be sold to another individual before nine years is up, it will still apply, so helping retain value, says Mr Husselmann.

The South African general manager has been at the helm of Abu Dhabi Motors for almost 20 years and in that time he has seen demand and sales of cars the dealership offers, which includes BMW and Mini, rocket.

"When I came here in 1999, we had only BWM, Rolls-Royce followed in 2003, we sold 360 BMWs a year – last year we broke 15,000 cars," he says.

And that growth is mirrored with Rolls. "When Rolls started here, I think in our first year, we only got 14 Phantoms – but over the years the demand has grown and the production capacity from Rolls has grown." While he is reluctant to talk specifics, he says last year saw about a 3 per cent increase in sales over the previous year and since 2003 Abu Dhabi Motors has sold upwards of 1,500 Rolls-Royces. "The growth is spectacular and the market is good."

So good in fact that with an unmatched total of 20 Global Awards in 14 years, Abu Dhabi Motors remains the most successful Rolls-Royce dealer globally. Last year, 99 per cent of cars ordered were entirely Bespoke, meaning they were unique to the buyer, and the average extra spend on Bespoke orders was around $25,000 dollars per car, says Mr Husselmann.

Globally, Rolls-Royce announced in January it sold a total of 3,362 cars in 2017 in almost 50 countries, while China sales increased 40 per cent compared to 2016. Although the global sales figure was down on the 4,011 sold in 2016, the firm said that was mainly due to the absence of the Phantom from the market for most of the year. New Phantom was unveiled in July and the company said it has a strong order book.

So what is it that makes the UAE such a hotbed for the BMW-owned company's most luxurious vehicles?

"There are so many things that benefit us here – the customer profile, their penchant for luxury and premium and understanding what that is, being able to afford it, that opens the doors for us to be very successful with Rolls," says Mr Husselmann.

And the prevelance of wealthy and successful business people and government officials helps, he says.

"The people who drive Rolls-Royce cars are the people who lead industry, the captains of industry and the high-level government officials – they employ people, they create and generate wealth largely, so [owning a Rolls-Royce] it’s a reward system," argues Mr Husselmann.

"It is good to encourage people to invest, to work hard, to study, develop, grow and do something for other people. It would be a very interesting question to ask the average Rolls-Royce customer how many people does he or she employ."


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But aside from the beauty and elegance of the cars themselves, an important but little mentioned fact also helps keep the marque at the top of the automotive tree.

"First and foremost, and nobody talks about this," says Mr Husselmann, "Rolls-Royce has got to be the safest car in the world - I can tell you that we have never lost a Rolls-Royce customer, there are accidents, but Abu Dhabi Motors has never ever lost a customer."

Few if any other car dealer could lay claim to such a boast and it is primarily due to the way each Rolls-Royce is designed, says Mr Husselmann. Accident protection technology and the sheer size of the vehicle, with doors that are four times as thick as an average car's for instance, means drivers and passengers alike are wrapped in a kind of velvet glove surrounded by an iron fist, well a steel one in this case, and in a collision the likelihood of fatality is much lower than in a standard road car.

And, Mr Husselmann says, the very fact that you are in a Rolls-Royce reduces the chances of an accident.

"When you get behind the wheel of a Rolls-Royce, you relax," he says. "The last thing on your mind is racing, or driving it sportily – you’d look quite silly if you were driving it like a Porsche or something similar through the traffic."

Although the marque has been around a long time, the company is not immune to changes in the industry and the growing electric revolution is an avenue Rolls-Royce is actively embarked on. Last year, says Mr Husselmann, the Abu Dhabi dealership received the company's first electric Phantom prototype and it is set to start offering battery powered models in the near future. In the longer term, he says, the entire range will probably be electric and he points out that the vehicles are particularly well suited to battery power as their size means there is plentiful space for a large power pack without recourse to significant style changes.

But Rolls-Royce is not alone among ultra-luxury motor manufacturers going plug-in. On Monday, at a private party prior to the Geneva Motor Show, Bentley Motors unveiled the Bentley Bentayga Hybrid. It is the first vehicle in Bentley’s family of cars to run on hybrid power and the Bentayaga is its first 4x4, following in the tyre tracks of other luxury marques in offering all-terrain models such as Porsche and Ferrari.

Not to be outdone, Rolls-Royce has also joined the SUV party and at its home of Goodwood in England last month announced the forthcoming arrival of the Cullinan. Nothing so garish as a 4x4 or ATV, the Cullinan, named after the largest diamond ever found, is referred to as a high-sided vehicle. As it happens, that is a touch unfortunate because to many a Britons' ear the term conjurs up images of a Tesco juggernaut rather than the ultimate in off-road luxury.

But at least Rolls-Royce not standing still and that is highlighted by the company's recent launches of models designed to appeal to a younger affluent audience, targeting the likes of the new wave of app billionaires.

So, say you have just sold the WeWibble app you developed in your bedroom 10 years ago for a sackful of billions, why buy a Rolls over Bentley, Aston Martin or Bugatti?

"A Rolls-Royce is simply the best car in the world," says Mr Husselmann. "There is no car that cocoons you from the road like a Rolls-Royce, that gives you that level of ownership and driving satisfaction."

That's hard to argue against and, given that the very name Rolls-Royce has become a byword for the ultimate in quality, perhaps one can't.

After all, as Mr Husselmann says: "If you look at the top watch, or the top smartphone, you say 'this is the Rolls-Royce' of watches or smartphones.

"Nobody has ever said 'this is the Bentley of watches' - that’s an important factor."