Rolls-Royce to introduce a high-bodied, any-terrain car

Also known as…an SUV.

It’s possible that only the legendary limousine maker, Rolls-Royce, has the power to entice the British Prime Minister to grace its car plant with his presence when a new model is announced. Last Wednesday, during David Cameron’s visit to the Rolls-Royce plant in Sussex, the automaker announced that it will extend its model line-up of extravagant limousines, coupes and convertibles to include a luxury SUV.

Purists might be disappointed that the 111-year-old marque will be deviating from tradition, but according to the company’s CEO, Torsten Mueller-Oetvoes, this addition is crucial to the company’s future. “It will guarantee long term sustainable growth, secure investment and jobs for the future, and ensure that Rolls-Royce Motor Cars remains at the pinnacle of British luxury manufacturing,” he said.

Rolls-Royce follows other luxury car manufacturers in introducing an SUV into its product range: Bentley recently announced the Bentayga, which will be revealed later this year and will go on sale in 2016; Jaguar’s F-Pace will be launched in 2016 as well; and of course when Porsche first launched the Cayenne 12 years ago, it had its share of criticism but today the Cayenne makes up more than half the cars sold by the German marque and total sales for the popular SUV exceeded 80,000 units last year.

With off-road cars becoming the fastest growing segment of the auto market, especially when the buyers are the amongst the wealthy, it’s a trend that luxury carmakers cannot afford to ignore. Sales of premium SUV’s hit a peak of 1.2 million units worldwide last year and is expected to rise to more than 1.3 million by 2020, according to estimates by IHS. Luxury SUV’s has even found a place in developing countries like India and Brazil where the roads outside the city can get rough (or are not even built yet, for that matter).

Rolls-Royce has yet to share any details of its upcoming SUV; in fact, it has purposely avoided using the term SUV, describing the new vehicle as a high-bodied motor car that could cross any terrain. According to a company spokesperson: “The words sport and utility don’t feature in the Rolls-Royce lexicon and that was why it was important not to say those words and nor will we ever.” Well, you can call a rose by any other name…

image: The Guardian

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