ROLLS-Royce has ripped luxury equipment from one of its best-selling models – the Series II version of the Ghost – in an effort to reduce the price and give customers a "blank canvas to build from that".
The result is a $100,000 price chop for the Series II version of the British brand’s most affordable car – which is still a $545,000 drive-away proposition.
But it’s accompanied by the removal of upmarket features, including lambswool floor mats, rear TV screens, electrically adjustable rear seats, and some of the exterior cameras.
It may seem like an odd move for a brand that pitches itself as the pinnacle of luxury, but Asia-Pacific regional director Paul Harris defends the move by pointing to the bespoke program, whereby owners can choose from myriad options – even suggest their own, such as wood taken from a specific tree with sentimental value.
“We’ve got something like 45,000 options… so to second guess what that could be is very, very difficult for us to do and that’s the main reason for the price repositioning,” said Harris.
“It’s based on feedback and people saying ‘it isn’t quite what I want’.”
However, Harris said there are no plans to reduce the price of the brand’s most expensive model, the Phantom.
From 2005 the Phantom sold for $915,000 when the value of the US dollar was as low as 67 cents (in 2008).
Since then the import tariff on new vehicles has been reduced from 10 percent to five percent – corresponding to a reduction in the price of many new cars - and the value of the dollar climbed as high as $1.10 compared with the US dollar.
But the price of the Phantom has increased 17 percent to $1,075,000, cementing it as the most expensive new car on the Australian market.
In the US, the Phantom sells for $US405,000. Even considering the five percent import tariff, 33 percent luxury car tax and 10 percent GST, an equivalent price in Australia should be less than $700,000.
But Harris suggests there is plenty of room for dealers to move with final pricing of the Phantom, especially when it comes to options through the bespoke program.
“We already adjusted for Phantom Series II; we’ve got no intention to realign from that position,” he said.
“I would have a closer look at those figures and a closer look at the retail price; I think we’d be quite close to the US. I know because I see the way that we price ex-factory. So I’m pretty confident that the customer wants to have a Phantom and wants to have it on a price similar to the US we’re able to achieve that.”
Rolls-Royce has already sold a record number of cars in Australia so far in 2014 – 34 cars for the first 10 months compared with 25 for the whole of 2010.
Harris said the final tally for 2014 would be 40-something, almost double the previous record.
The just-released Ghost Series II also gets a redesigned grille, suspension tweaks, metal door handles (in lieu of plastic) and a “spirit of ecstasy” badge now tilted seven degrees forward.