Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited is a British luxury automobile maker. A wholly owned subsidiary of German group BMW, it was established in 1998 after BMW was licensed the rights to the Rolls-Royce brand name and logo from Rolls-Royce PLC and acquired the rights to the Spirit of Ecstasy and Rolls-Royce grill shape trademarks from Volkswagen AG. 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 Motors 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. 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 and Wraith two-door coupé.
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 PLC and acquired the rights to the Spirit of Ecstasy and Rolls-Royce grill 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 on vehicles since 1906, the Rolls-Royce Motor Cars subsidiary of BMW AG has no direct relationship to Rolls-Royce branded vehicles produced prior to 2003. The Bentley subsidiary of Volkswagen AG is the direct successor to Rolls-Royce Motors and the other various predecessor entities that produced Rolls-Royce and Bentley branded cars between the foundation of each company and 2003.
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.
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 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 grill 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 grill 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, giving 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.
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 timeline
|Ownership||Independent||Vickers plc||VW Group||BMW|
|Luxury car||10 hp
|Twenty||20/25||25/30||Wraith||WWII||Silver Dawn||Silver Cloud||Silver Shadow||Silver Spirit/Dawn||Silver Seraph||Ghost|
|Ultra-luxury car||30 hp||40/50 hp (Silver Ghost)||Phantom I/II/III||Silver Wraith||Silver Wraith II||Silver Spur||Ghost Extended Wheelbase|
|Phantom IV||Phantom V/VI||Touring Limousine||Park Ward||Phantom|
|Convertible||Corniche/II/III/IV||Corniche V||Phantom Drophead|
|Coupé||Camargue||Silver Spirit Hooper 2 Door||Phantom Coupé|