Codename Cullinan

Rolls-Royce to add SUV and may even go electric

ROLLS ROYCE CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös
Wait until you see what comes next. Source: Jiri Rezac for Handelsblatt

Wealth and status don’t have to come with age. At least, that’s Rolls-Royce’s bet. Torsten Müller-Ötvös, the German who runs the iconic luxury British carmaker, says the firm is rolling out a succession of new models, including the company’s first-ever SUV, designed to appeal to a younger and hipper but still very rich customer.

Mr. Müller-Ötvös was named to lead Rolls in 2010 by its owner, German carmaker BMW, after successfully leading BMW’s economy car brand, Mini. The company that once boasted that the ticking of the clock was the loudest sound in the car now offers a 1,300-watt, 18-channel customized audio system with two thumping bass speakers, seven tweeters and seven mid-range speakers.

And the changes are bearing some fruit: 2016 was the second-best year in history in terms of sales volume. Back when the company only offered one model, the Phantom, the average age of its owners was 56. Now that average has dropped a decade to 45, Mr. Müller-Ötvös said, as the company introduced the economy-sized Ghost in 2010, followed by the sleek Wraith fastback coupe and the Dawn convertible, as well as high-performance versions, called Black Badge.

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