At the Geneva motor show today Rolls Royce Motor Cars unveiled its fastest and most powerful model ever, aptly named the Wraith. Not only will the Wraith travel from 0-60 miles per hour in just 4.4 seconds, but also has 624 horsepower and will cost £200,000 ($300,000) when it goes on sale later this year, showing that this is definitely a model for luxury car enthusiasts. According to chief executive Torsten Muller-Otvos, the car was designed by the company in order to change the public perceptions of the luxury marque.
During a sneak peek of the vehicle, a BBC journalist noted that the car had a passing resemblance to the Bentley Continental, one of Rolls-Royce’s main competitors. However, Mr Muller-Otvos said: “I wouldn’t see the Continental as a competitor, definitely not. We are operating in a different price segment, well beyond £200,000. But I wouldn’t be surprised if some existing Bentley customers would buy the Wraith – many people in this segment don’t see the Continental as exclusive anymore.”
At the show Stuart Rose, Bentley’s board member in charge of sales and marketing, retorted to Mr Muller-Otvos’ comments at the unveiling of Bentley’s new Flying Spur model, and said: “It’s partly true, as we’re not in the same price categories, but many of both our and their customers have six or seven cars, so many of them will have both a Rolls and a Bentley. But I’m startled to hear that they don’t think Bentley is luxurious. But we don’t overlap too much. We’re rivals on a friendly basis. They’re dominant in their segment [of the ultra-luxury car market], we’re dominant in ours – which, as it happens, is much larger.”
Even though Rolls-Royce are confident that the new Wraith will be extremely popular amongst luxury car enthusiasts, last year the company only saw a one per cent increase in sales and sold a total of 3,575 units. Meanwhile, Bentley saw an increase in sales of twenty two per cent last year and thirty seven per cent the year before, and sold a total of 8,510 cars in 2012. This doesn’t seem likely to alter Mr Muller-Otvos’ confidence though, as he said: “In general, when we make a new model, our intention is not just pure volume. We also want to add new facets to the brand.”
“I wouldn’t be surprised if even Ferrari drivers, tired of cars that are not comfortable enough for everyday driving, would switch. But the Wraith is more of a gentleman’s ‘gran turismo’. Sporty is probably not the right expression for a Rolls-Royce.” Whatever happens in the next few months when it comes to sales of Bentley’s and Rolls-Royce’s new models, there is one thing we know for certain – they will each have expensive car insurance quotes!