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China helps drive Rolls to record year
Publication Date : 15-01-2013
Luxury British car brand now plans expansion of dealerships across nation
Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Ltd, the luxury British car producer, made around 30 per cent of its total sales last year in the Chinese mainland, its second-largest market in 2012.
Without publishing exact figures for individual markets, Chief Executive Officer Torsten Muller-Otvos told China Daily that the exclusive brand sold a total 3,575 cars in 2012 worldwide, in its third consecutive year of record sales.
The US remained its biggest market, with China now a very close second, he said.
"The growth in the first half was slower due to the challenging local economic climate, but we have seen a remarkable pick-up since the second half as the economy recovered," said Muller-Otvos.
In 2011, its sales figures for China overtook those in the United States, to be the brand's largest market.
Though the US market reversed that trend in 2012, the Chinese mainland is now only around 40 to 50 units behind it, said Muller-Otvos.
"We are cautiously optimistic about our business in China in 2013, and I would not be surprised to see China as our No 1 market again this year," he added.
He attributed his confidence to China's "fantastic" and "reliable" economic growth, predicted this year to be at 8 to 9 per cent.
"It's certainly a positive market compared with many other mature markets."
He added the company expected to continue expanding its network of China showrooms in 2013, especially in second-tier cities and in the western part of the country, without disclosing detailed numbers.
Rolls-Royce currently has 15 dealers across the country.
During 2012, its two dealerships in Beijing and Shanghai were listed among the top three worldwide in terms of sales, for the second year running.
Looking at the Chinese auto sector in general, Muller-Otvos added that he sees ongoing demand for ultra luxury cars continuing to grow, both in China and across Asia.
A recent report from Hurun Research Institute showed that China's population of millionaires (with assets worth more than 10 million yuan, or US$1.6 million) topped a million for the first time at the end of 2011, up by 60,000 to 1.1 million. Within that was an elite group of 63,500 super-rich individuals, with assets worth more than 100 million yuan.
The report also said that the number of high net worth people in China doubled from 2008 to 2011 and is expected to double again by 2015.
According to figures from French research company Robb and Ipsos, Chinese millionaires most favour leather goods and automobiles, which accounted for about 20 per cent of their total consumption a year.
In China, a Rolls-Royce Ghost model starts at 4.19 million yuan (US$670,000), and consumers pay at least 6.58 million yuan for a Phantom car.
In 2012, another British luxury brand Bentley saw its sales in China increase by 23 per cent from a year earlier to 2,253 units, accounting for a quarter of its total global sales.
Bentley plans to expand its distribution network to 40 dealerships, covering all major provinces in China.
Italian super sports car brand Lamborghini delivered 320 units of its cars to Chinese customers in 2012.
China became Jaguar Land Rover's top market globally in 2012, as the British premium brand delivered 73,347 imported vehicles to Chinese consumers, 74 per cent more from 2011.