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Rolls-Royce CEO sees 'good future' in Chinese market

Xinhua | Updated: 2020-01-10 14:56
The new Rolls-Royce Dawn is displayed at the 66th International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt. [Photo by Hao Yan / chinadaily.com.cn]

LONDON - "I foresee a good future for us (Rolls-Royce) in the Chinese market, and we are also heavily investing into the Chinese market together with our partners," said Torsten Mueller-Oetvoes, CEO of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.

Rolls-Royce delivered record annual sales in 2019 in the company's 116-year history, with 5,152 cars sold to customers in over 50 countries around the world, an increase of 25 percent year-on-year, according to the latest figures released by the company.

The company reported significant sales growth in every of its key global markets. North America retained top status (around a third of global sales) followed by China and Europe.

"China is now back into the second position right after the North American market," said Mueller-Oetvoes in a recent interview with Xinhua.

The CEO also noted that his company, a luxury car manufacturer, even plans to launch a version of Ghost, a flagship sedan, exclusive to the Chinese market.

"It's something we are very much looking forward to do this year," he said.

There is reason for Mueller-Oetvoes' optimism in the Chinese market. The BMW Group, of which Rolls-Royce is a part, continued its positive sales trend in November last year: worldwide deliveries increased by 1.4 percent year-on-year to 225,662 vehicles, and strong growth can be seen in China.

The auto industry is undergoing fast change with electric vehicle, or EV, being in the spotlight. EVs have entered into a fast track of development globally, especially in leading markets like China. Even a luxury brand like Rolls-Royce is planning to electrify its products.

"Our plans are clear, and I announced it already last year. In this decade, Rolls-Royce will become electric, and step by step we are already working on that project," said Mueller-Oetvoes.

This is "the future for the brand, our lighthouse and we are following that path", he added.

EVs are on track to dominate global sales of passenger cars and buses by 2040, and to encroach significantly on the market for vans and short-distance trucking, according to a forecast from research firm BloombergNEF (BNEF) released last year.

The BNEF report sees China continuing to lead in electric cars, accounting for 48 percent of all passenger EVs sold in 2025 and 26 percent in 2040 when other markets are catching up.

Mueller-Oetvoes pointed out that it is still extremely hard to forecast when EVs will become the mainstream products in the market, but "I think what is clear is that long term electrification is the trend and everybody is on it."

However, Rolls-Royce will need to take time to deliver "real proper Rolls-Royce", including electric versions, to satisfy customers, said the CEO.

"Our customers are asking us, we want a true Rolls-Royce, even in an electrified version, and that takes a little bit of time. We need certain battery technology and when the time is right, we will bring it into the market," he said.

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