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Rolls-Royce CEO on making EVs: 'We'd never compromise'

·Senior Reporter
·3-min read

Based on the performance of luxury automaker Rolls-Royce (BMWYY), you wouldn't think 2021 was a year the world was still stuck in the thralls of a global pandemic.

Goodwood, England–based Rolls-Royce delivered 5,586 vehicles to clients around the world, up 49% from 2020, marking the highest sales total ever for the 117-year old automaker. The overall figure includes all-time record sales in important sales regions like Greater China, the Americas, and Asia-Pacific, as well as in countries across the globe.

But it wasn't Rolls-Royce's long-time, traditionally older customers that powered sales. The brand, now with its Black Badge line of cars highlighting enhanced performance and more contemporary design finishes, is attracting much younger and diverse clientele.

"When I joined 12 years ago, we had been on 56 as an average age, and we are now down to 43." Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös said in an interview with Yahoo Finance Live. "So what we observed over the last 10 years is that they are all getting younger and younger and younger, and we have lowered average age of Rolls-Royce motor cars [owners] in a substantial way."

Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös
Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös

Despite rising demand from its younger clientele, Rolls-Royce was able to produce those vehicles without any hiccups from the ongoing supply chain crunch. And Müller-Ötvös believes 2022 will be another strong year that won't be affected by shortages, as BMW-owned Rolls-Royce is able to lean on the large German automaker to source critical components such as semiconductor chips.

"I am very optimistic that we're going to build all the cars ordered, and which are in the order book so far," he says. "If you order a Rolls-Royce today, you take delivery in one year from now. That's basically how it goes."

One those vehicles that many customers — and the industry itself — is watching, is the recently announced Spectre electric vehicle. Testing is currently ongoing and the company is confident the car will come to market as planned, in 2023.

Rolls-Royce Spectre electric vehicle (Credit: Rolls-Royce Motor Cars)
Rolls-Royce Spectre electric vehicle (Credit: Rolls-Royce Motor Cars)

It's a risky proposition for a company known for its ultra-smooth V-12 powertrains, but Müller-Ötvös is confident in the company's EV technology and the "waftability" of the car's driving dynamics, as Rolls-Royce describes it in its marketing materials.

“It needs to be a true, perfect Rolls-Royce, and then number two comes electrification,” Müller-Ötvös says about the Spectre EV. “We'd never compromise the experience of what a Rolls-Royce stands for, just for the pure sake that we have a different drivetrain."

The Spectre will be a much watched barometer-type release when it comes out. Can it maintain the luxury and superiority of the Rolls-Royce marque or will it end up being more or an ultra-luxe Tesla (TSLA) Model S?

It sounds like Müller-Ötvös isn't leaving much to chance when it comes to making Spectre the "Rolls-Royce" of EVs. The car is currently undergoing a massive testing program, he says, one that will cover over 1.5 million miles and take the the car to “all four corners of the world.”


Pras Subramanian is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. You can follow him on Twitter and on Instagram.

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