Rolls-Royce to launch SUV-like model

Rolls-Royce will build a "high-bodied" vehicle capable of crossing "any terrain" -- but don't call it an SUV.

The super-luxury sedan maker chooses to call it a car, one capable of living up to the adventurous spirit of the company’s two founders, Charles Rolls and Sir Henry Royce.  

"I am proud to confirm that Rolls-Royce Motor Cars is developing an all-new, high-bodied Rolls-Royce designed to satisfy the contemporary, highly mobile lifestyles of our discerning clients around the world," said Torsten Mueller-Oetvoes, chief executive of Rolls-Royce.  

The unnamed vehicle is in the early stages of development and will be just the fourth model in the Rolls-Royce range, joining the massive Phantom sedan, coupe and convertible, the Wraith coupe and the Ghost sedan.

Like the rest of the current Rolls lineup, the non-SUV will have a V-12 engine. It will be the first vehicle from Rolls to use an all-new, aluminum platform. Other technical details haven’t been finalized, but all-wheel drive is likely.

The new model will be a key rival to Bentley’s upcoming Bentayga SUV, expected to debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March. Volkswagen Group, which owns Bentley, is expected to put the model on the market in 2016.

Named for a rare rock formation in the Canary Islands, the Bentayga will be the world’s most powerful SUV, Bentley assures.

The new Rolls-Royce model comes at a heady time for the elite automaker, which is owned by BMW. Global sales in 2014 were up 12% and topped 4,000 for the first time in the company’s history. Worldwide sales have more than quadrupled since 2009.

The U.S. remains Rolls’ biggest market, while China and the Middle East also have large appetites for the cars, which can top $500,000. Rolls Royce hasn’t announced pricing on the non-SUV, but it’s likely it will start between $300,000 and $400,000.

"Rolls-Royce is the ultra-luxury cornerstone of the BMW Group’s premium brand strategy and we will continue to strongly support Rolls-Royce Motor Cars as it moves, confidently, into this new phase in its development," said Peter Schwarzenbauer, chairman of Rolls-Royce and a member of BMW’s board.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
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