Rolls-Royce sold 4011 cars in 2016, marking an increase of 6% on 2015 and ranking as the brand’s second-best year yet.
All regions apart from the Middle East achieved record sales, with the Americas retaining its place as the brand’s most successful. Growth in demand came following the introduction of the Rolls-Royce Dawn and demand was matched by recruitment of 100 new employees in Britain.
Demand in the Americas grew by 12%, while Europe saw even faster growth with a 28% increase in sales. The Asia-Pacific region saw a steady increase of 5%, and Britain added 26% to its 2015 figure.
This was beaten by Germany, which grew demand by 30%, and Japan, where sales were up by 51%. China demand grew by 23% and the US was 10% up on 2015.
A fall in demand for luxury goods in the Middle East is labelled by Rolls-Royce as the key contributor to a reduction in sales there. Despite the challenges, the region still sold enough cars to rank third overall.
CEO Torsten Muller-Otvos said the strong performances were helped by new models launched during 2016, notably the Dawn convertible and the Ghost-based Black Badge coupe. The Dawn had accounted for more than 35% of volume - and performed much better than the company expected in several key sales regions - while the Black Badge Wraith accounted for nearly 20% of Wraith sales.
He was only "fairly optimistic" that 2017 trading conditions would match this year's given "headwinds" now faced by luxury car makers. Middle Easten markets were an ongoing challenge, he said, because a recent decline has been driven by lower oil prices and political uncertainties. There was concern, too, about the future of the Chinese luxury car market following the imposition of a new 10% tax on expensive cars. "This could easily add $80,000-plus to the price of a Rolls-Royce in China," he said. "We will have to see how much more of a difference this makes."
Rolls-Royce also opened six new dealerships in 2016, bringing the global total to 136, and has begun investing heavily in its Goodwood site to prepare for new models.
Muller-Otvos called 2016 "their perfect year to sign off the successful first chapter of the renaissance of Rolls-Royce" that began with the launch of the Phantom on 2003. The company will show its second generation Phantom flagship later this year, and is on course to reveal an SUV, likely to be called Cullinan, in 2018. It has just completed the installation of single-line assembly operation in the Goodwood factory in anticipation of the fast that all future Rolls models will use aluminium space frame technology, as pioneered on the first Phantom.
Steve Cropley and Sam Sheehan