Given the success of Tesla’s Model S in tapping interest among the world’s 1%, an electric version of the big Rolls might seem like an interesting possibility, but CEO Torsten Muller-Otvos says the brand won’t embark on any new technologies that involve “compromise.”
And at present, given the time it takes to charge up an electric car and the requirement that it be plugged in, that’s a compromise. If Rolls were to embark on an electric car, at very least it would have inductive charging, meaning it would charge on its own via a plate underneath the car in a garage.
“A Rolls-Royce can’t be a compromise,” he says flatly here at a breakfast meeting with reporters at a seaside villa. Rolls tried an electric concept a couple of years ago, but it had limited range, which would have made it a show-stopper with customers.
Instead, Rolls is focusing on its new model, a convertible version of its sleek Wraith, due by 2016. Wraith has helped boost Rolls-Royce sales because is aimed more at the market for executives and the well-heeled to drive themselves, rather than using a chauffeur. It’s the third car in the Rolls-Royce lineup, along with Ghost and Phantom.
While having just three models might challenge some automakers, Rolls says it’s just fine by them. Its output is limited by a Goodwood, England, factory that can’t be expanded and the brand’s cachet rests on its exclusivity.
“If you want to be everybody’s darling, you will be nobody’s darling,” says Muller-Otvos.
As if to underscore the point, it brought one of the latest limited editions to the Monterey car shows going on here, one of 35 cars in its Waterspeed Collection. It’s a blue Phantom convertible.
Of course, that’s only the start of the personalization. Rolls meets with every customer to show them that, basically, the sky’s the limit when it comes to the kind of variations that they can have in their car. Rolls officials will advise, but they won’t stop customers when it come to decisions on things like custom paint and interiors.
“We’re not the taste police,” says Muller-Otvos.