Currently reading: Rolls-Royce: luxury will always take priority over technology
British marque will adopt new digital systems for its cars once they can best the feel of analogue controls
James Attwood, digital editor
News
2 mins read
18 September 2020

Digital technology represents a “phenomenal opportunity” for Rolls-Royce to enhance its personalisation options for customers, according to the lead designer of the firm’s bespoke Coachbuild arm – but it won’t fully embrace such systems until they can offer a luxury experience that beats analogue controls.

The British firm has started to increase the use of systems such as touchscreens in the interior of its cars, but it has so far been on a limited basis, with the likes of the latest Phantom featuring a customised ‘gallery’ option.

“We’re not always the first adopters, and for good reason,” said Alex Innes, head of design at Coachbuild. “For us, technology is about furthering the experience of what is expected of a Rolls-Royce.

“Digitalisation presents a phenomenal opportunity and will enhance our ability to personalise a machine in the customer’s image. We’d never do anything just for the sake of using technology, but we can develop it to fit the marque and what it represents. It’s important not to ask a client to do more than necessary. A Rolls-Royce should be a sanctuary from life’s distractions. It’s our responsibility to apply technology without overstepping the mark.”

Innes cited the example of the Phantom and latest Ghost, both of which make use of technology but retain largely analogue controls.

“We carefully select the materials we use,” he said. “That’s why we haven’t started using touchscreens with haptic feedback. The experience of beautifully weighted analogue switchgear still beats a touchscreen.”

READ MORE

New Rolls-Royce Ghost is firm's most advanced model 

Analysis: How Rolls-Royce is redefining luxury design 

Rolls-Royce to be first car firm to resume UK production

Advertisement
Advertisement

Find an Autocar review

Read our review

Car review
Rolls-Royce Ghost 2020 road test review - hero front

New Rolls-Royce retains the character of the original but ups every part of the capability to good effect

Join the debate

Comments
10

18 September 2020

 I agree, when there's a demand for tech in a Rolls, the customer will ask for it, after all, there built to order, there's no base price as far as I know, so, I dare say there's potential customers for what most of us have in our cars just now, RR have an image to keep up, that's why they're reluctant to add the modern looking stuff.

18 September 2020

This approach is fine now when most customers are boomers and from an analogue age.  But what about after boomers have all died off? When generation x ers and millenials are the main buyers of ultra high end cars?  Alex has worked at RR all his life.  I recently went in a Ghost, it was like using my dad's high end CD player.  Lovely weighted controls, awesome metalwork but ultimately not as useful as the tech in my phone and Spotify.

18 September 2020

waiting to bite them in the ass but for the fact that their parent company is BMW and if and when the tide turns with regards to analogue controls etc then they will implement the tech from BMW. Car companies will say anything until it suits them better to say something else, that's not an irony lost on me.

wmb

18 September 2020

...obvious question: 'Will Rolls-Royce, the vehicle for the uber rich, attempt to keep up with Mercedes and the new, high tech in the redesigned S-Class, the standard choice for many of the average luxury buyers?' In today's world, technology has become an even bigger and important part of luxury vehicles. With digital screens replacing or complimenting the gauge clusters, touch screens handling infotainment and tablets coming as standard for rear passengers in some vehicles. Add to that are voice and gesture control, 3D and augmented reality mapping and the list goes on. Spending 300K+ for a vehicle and not getting much of these things, especially when most of these features can or will be found on the S-Class, 7 Series and A8, vehicles that are less then one-third the cost (and more) of the Ghost and Phantom, requires a response.  

19 September 2020
wmb wrote:

...obvious question: 'Will Rolls-Royce, the vehicle for the uber rich, attempt to keep up with Mercedes and the new, high tech in the redesigned S-Class, the standard choice for many of the average luxury buyers?' In today's world, technology has become an even bigger and important part of luxury vehicles. With digital screens replacing or complimenting the gauge clusters, touch screens handling infotainment and tablets coming as standard for rear passengers in some vehicles. Add to that are voice and gesture control, 3D and augmented reality mapping and the list goes on. Spending 300K+ for a vehicle and not getting much of these things, especially when most of these features can or will be found on the S-Class, 7 Series and A8, vehicles that are less then one-third the cost (and more) of the Ghost and Phantom, requires a response.  

No it requires no response, except for those that matter - people who can afford and own a new Rolls-Royce. And the company does their research, and many customers don't want stupid rear screens and the like. Those are not things that define real luxury. Rolls-Royce has developed cutting edge suspension design for the new Ghost. There's CarPlay too. There are all the driver assistant systems available. But they're there to be as unobtrusive as possible.

If you want to play with stupid toys buy a BMW or Maybach instead,

20 September 2020

Until Rolls-Royce recognizes that technology is luxury it will not be the preeminent luxury car. 

20 September 2020
Mark Singleton wrote:

Until Rolls-Royce recognizes that technology is luxury it will not be the preeminent luxury car. 

Complete nonsense. The new Ghost has the latest in driver assistance systems, bespoke suspension design, four wheel steering, so what more do you want? Technology is NOT luxury!

It's why I'll always choose an iPhone over a glitzy Samsung. Pure Android is great, but the skins and bloatware is horrific - like loading a car with useless tech.

If you want toys buy a Merc or BMW.

20 September 2020
manicm wrote:

Technology is NOT luxury!

It's why I'll always choose an iPhone over a glitzy Samsung.

Nothing whispers 'luxury' like Foxconn.

20 September 2020
jason_recliner wrote:

manicm wrote:

Technology is NOT luxury!

It's why I'll always choose an iPhone over a glitzy Samsung.

Nothing whispers 'luxury' like Foxconn.

Nothing stopping anyone manufacturing in their own countries. I take my hat off to South Korea - they manufacture their own cars and phones.

The US and UK have allowed greed so that capitalism devours innovation whole. The UK once had a thriving telecoms industry. If you don't want to pay your own workers, don't blame the Chinese. Now the US punishes Huewai because they got to 5g first. It's not about spying. It's I repeat, a result of letting capitalism to devour innovation. Just like the tragic Boeing fiasco.

At least you're guaranteed OS updates with Apple for a good while. You're not guaranteed the latest version of Android even with newest Samsung phones. So Apple, with their clean interface and latest updates is what I consider true luxury. I had a Nexus 5X phone once. I absolutely loved it, but it conked out after a year, didn't have the time to send it to LG.

20 September 2020

This attitude from Rolls Royce makes total sense, technology goes out of date much quicker than materials and finish and Rolls Royces are expected to last much longer than cheaper cars. Imagine how much less appealing a Silver Spirit would be if all its controls had been accessed through a Sinclair ZX Spectrum ( the contemporary 80s technology)! That will probably be how the latest S Class will feel in 40 years time! Unuseable.

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review