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An SUV for Rolls-Royce?

Well, not an SUV but an all-terrain vehicle with distinctive Rolls-Royce DNA says regional director for the Middle East, Africa and South America, Brett Soso.

This bombshell was dropped at the launch of the Ghost Series II as Brett Soso talked about the success of the Wraith and the prospects for the brand in the immediate future. He also hinted at a new model drophead, which we’re likely to see mid-2016.

Rolls had a good year in 2014 thanks to the US and Middle East markets, up 12% globally to 4060 cars, on the back of the Wraith launch in 2013 and a younger clientele coming to the brand. The Phantom also had a good year as did the previous iteration of the Ghost.

“A lot of research was put into the development of the Wraith”, says Soso. “Any time Rolls Royce looks to bring a new product to market they go through, in fine detail, what the product will offer and whether it remains true to the Rolls-Royce marque”.

He says the Wraith is something that is powerful, something that is dynamic and which is a good fit for the brand. They spoke to entrepreneurs and captains of industry, people who were Rolls-Royce customers and there was a desire for a dynamic vehicle – something that was more performance than pure luxury.

The planned new all-terrain vehicle is not intended to cannibalise other models but compliment their needs with a significant growth in all-terrain vehicle interests among customers. Soso says there is a trend in the direction of higher bodied vehicles with some other brands deciding to bring similar vehicles to market.

“It’s careful management on the Rolls-Royce side as to how they position it and it’s got to be a vehicle that’s effortless, can cover the different terrains and that will bring in new customers to the brand who have different driving needs.”

The development of the Ghost II was on the back of a lot of feedback from existing Ghost customers as to how they would like to see the car evolve. They were opposed to drastic change or for the sake of it and asked for Improvements in seating design, technology and drivability, so the car is more of a driver’s car than a passenger’s . Read the Prestige driving impression of the car here……..

The future for the region will see opportunities to engage with UHNWIs in Africa and improve that strategy. South Africa and Nigeria remain the chief focus and they will look at the younger elements of that market and the potential for the all-terrain vehicle in those relationships.

Soso reminded me that Rolls-Royce does not chase volume and the emphasis is on rarity and exclusivity, “our customers don’t want to see a Rolls-Royce on every street corner”. This is confirmed by the fact that 85% of the Ghost market is bespoke and Soso says the cornerstone of Rolls-Royce is the Bespoke works in Goodwood, where a favourite nail polish colour can be your colour of choice for your car, or you can order a family crest embossed on the interior.

As for 2015, Soso says emerging markets are optimistic for another year of growth although the Middle East might be challenging with the oil price uncertainty. He says he Brazilian market looks good and is exciting despite high taxation and that other significant opportunities exist in both South America and Africa.

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