x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Will Rolls build an SUV?

The Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös talks over the famous British-based brand's plans for expanding its range.

The Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös says that the company will only produce an SUV if it’s right for the Rolls-Royce brand – and has commissioned an in-house study into the segment.

Speculation has been mounting over recent months on whether the Goodwood-based luxury carmaker will make an entry into one of the fastest growing automotive sectors in the world, given that most other rivals, including Bentley, have looked at the segment with growing interest.

Müller-Ötvös says: “The segment in itself is highly interesting, because it is stable, in terms of prices. Also I think what we will see over the next five to 10 years is that a luxurious sub-segment will materialise. So for that reason, there is a good market.

“The question for me, and what is more important, is does it fit for Rolls-Royce? Because Rolls-Royce is not sport and it is not utility, and for that reason I have tasked my design team to come up with some first ideas and to look into it deeper. I want to know what a car would look like, in this segment, if it was to be a Rolls-Royce.”

In many ways, a modern SUV mirrors the kinds of dynamics, ground clearances and robustness that Rolls-Royce built its reputation on during the 1920s and 30s.”

Müller-Ötvös adds: “Yes, in the distant past, concept-wise and idea-wise, Rolls-Royce did produce cars along a similar idea – but, on the other side, we need to look at it design-wise today and see how it may look. It needs to be an authentic Rolls-Royce design behind it, and it must be in keeping with what the car needs to deliver in terms of flexibility and reliability, of course.”

In reality, any SUV programme may founder for other reasons.

“There is no rush for us. There is even no need for a project like this for us. I can tell you that in Goodwood, we are highly limited with our capacity, and we can’t expand the footprint of the plant, so, for that reason, there is an inbuilt limit to the volume we can produce, which is great for the brand.”

“We are very satisfied with the way things are developing. There is no need to go for more and more and more. We are custodians of a brand that becomes 110 years old next year. You can quite quickly destroy a brand overnight, and you need to balance pedigree and heritage with what you need for the future – and that takes time. I’m absolutely convinced that rushing in to decisions like those is wrong,” he adds.

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