The hotly anticipated Cullinan is finally here, so we've caught up with the boss of the brand, Torsten Müller-Otvos, to gauge what impact it's likely to have on his company.
Just how important to Rolls-Royce’s future is the launch of Cullinan?
It’s enormously important. Cullinan redefines the parameters of super-luxury travel. Our customers have been waiting a long time for a motor car that offers uncompromised luxury wherever the owner dares to venture. Cullinan is that car.
Do you think Cullinan’s arrival will change the Rolls-Royce brand?
Well, Cullinan is certainly a very big departure for us. We’re moving into the very top echelon of a highly competitive and thickly populated sector, so we will definitely meet customers we’ve not known before. But the big response to our latest cars shows that our brand values are clear and well understood.
How important are the latest Goodwood production changes to Cullinan’s launch?
They are absolutely key. We needed our new architecture to have any chance of making cars as different as Dawn [convertible] and Cullinan [SUV] using just-in- time principles on the same flexible line. For that we had to reform and reshape the whole production system. We have invested millions in manufacturing at Goodwood, and in a new technology and logistics centre in Bognor Regis. And it is already paying off.
How hard was it, telling BMW’s bosses you didn’t want to use their chassis components any more?
It wasn’t as difficult as you’d think. They listened to our case and agreed that make authentic Rolls-Royces we needed our own architecture. We’re really grateful they allowed us to depart from the first arrangement, because it is the key to everything. That kind of flerxibility is what makes BMW so brilliant.
Is Cullinan configured for hybrid and electric versions in the future?
Absolutely. This architecture is a well thought-out, strategic programme. It is ready for electrification and other changes as well.
We hear the number of people who order special equipment for their Rolls-Royces is expanding: is this true?
It certainly is. Around 70% of our buyers order extra equipment through our Bespoke department, and we’re making it easier by fitting special equipment on the line. Last year over 1000 people came to Goodwood, just to choose the colour, trim and equipment for their new Rolls-Royces.