Luxury carmaker Rolls-Royce saw global sales soar 49 per cent to a record high in 2021, despite the Covid-19 pandemic causing production gluts for manufacturers across the automotive industry.
The BMW-owned company sold 5,586 cars to customers in more than 50 countries, the highest figure in the company’s 117-year history, making the brand the “undisputed leader in the €250,000-plus segment”.
Rolls-Royce chief executive Torsten Müller-Ötvös described 2021 as “a phenomenal year” for company.
“I don't think anyone would disagree with me that 2021 was the most volatile, unpredictable and challenging year for businesses across the board,” he said.
“However, in the luxury sector as a whole, the struggle was not so much focused on attempting to find customers, but rather producing enough product to satisfy huge customer demand.”
The buoyant figures came against a drop in sales across the wider car market, with the UK, for example, recording just 1.65 million new cars sold last year — a rise of just 1 per cent on 2020 and a 28.7 per cent contraction from 2019.
Britain’s car industry was hammered by the pandemic in 2020, with new car sales suffering the biggest fall since the 1940s, and an expected recovery in 2021 not materialising as the supply chain crisis saw a global chip shortage that halted manufacturing in factories across the world.
The luxury market appears much more upbeat, with premium and luxury car sales growing more broadly in key global markets such as China and the US as pandemic travel restrictions have left wealthy consumers with more disposable income.
Rolls-Royce reported all-time highs in most of the regions it sells its cars, including China, the Americas and Asia-Pacific.
While the company said there was high demand for all models, the Ghost was particularly popular with an uplift in sales following the launch of the Black Badge Ghost in October.
This, together with the Cullinan and the marque’s “pinnacle product” Phantom, “has ensured order books are full well into the third quarter of 2022,” the company said.
Its pre-owned programme also achieved record high sales in 2021, while its bespoke commissions remain at record levels with one example including the Phantom Oribe co-created with Hermès, alongside the Phantom Tempus, and Black Badge Wraith and Black Badge Dawn Landspeed Collection cars.
Based at Goodwood in West Sussex, Rolls-Royce is continuing to develop its first pure electric car, Spectre, which is scheduled to be released in the final three months of 2023.
The brand’s aim to deliver Spectre to the market by the fourth quarter of next year is on track, with “the most punishing testing protocol ever conceived for a Rolls‑Royce” now under way, the company said.
As the brand shifts towards an all-electric future, the company stressed it is continuing to meet the surge in demand for its current portfolio through a flexible manufacturing process for its 2,000 staff at its West Sussex hub and in other parts of the world.
“The Rolls-Royce factory at Goodwood is currently running at near-maximum capacity, on a two-shift pattern to fulfil orders from clients around the world,” the company said, with 37 new apprentices joining the company in September this year to help meet demand.
“We delivered more cars than at any time in the marque's 117-year history with unprecedented demand for all products in every global market,” Mr Müller-Ötvös said.
“Building on this year's success, we will continue to evolve as a true luxury brand, beyond the realms of automotive manufacturing.”