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Rolls-Royce Thinks Green

You probably wouldn’t expect folks who fork out upwards of $400,000 for a car to care about whether their vehicle is environmentally responsible, but that’s not the case, according to Ian Robertson, CEO of Rolls-Royce. “Our buyers are very worldly people; they are affected by global trends and global thinking,” he says.

You probably wouldn’t expect folks who fork out upwards of $400,000 for a car to care about whether their vehicle is environmentally responsible, but that’s not the case, according to Ian Robertson, CEO of Rolls-Royce. “Our buyers are very worldly people; they are affected by global trends and global thinking,” he says. Never mind the fact that the Phantom sedan has an EPA rating of 11 mpg city and 18 mpg highway. Robertson contends his brand is one of the most environmentally conscious due to the fact that 70% of the cars produced since 1904 remain on the road: “A Rolls-Royce will be here for 30 or 40 years from now and therefore it has a far greener credential than the average product,” he claims.

Still, the brand is looking to gain even more green credentials when it introduces a new smaller car based loosely on the BMW 7-Series (codenamed MGS) in 2010. “We will bring out a completely new engine and that will move the technical boundary another step further,” Robertson says, adding Rolls-Royce would consider adding a hybrid powertrain to its line-up, pointing specifically to the possible addition of start-stop and brake regeneration capabilities. “I think if you look at what our parent BMW has been doing with engine dynamics…those will come in with us as well,” he says. While Rolls-Royce will share major components with BMW, don’t expect to see the two share complete platforms or suspensions. “The way in which the car handles, the materials are developed and the way in which we manufacture the car will remain unique to Rolls-Royce and I think that’s important.”

In terms of vehicle aesthetics, Robertson says to expect the new MGS to display the next step in the brand’s “evolving” design language, a look that breaks with more than a century of tradition. “Up until the launch of the Drophead [convertible], the grille on a Rolls-Royce has always stood proud of the body; it has been a separate entity. The grille on the Drophead is integrated into the body so the language has subtly changed, but the face of the company is still very noticeable. You will continue to see that with our cars going forward,” Robertson says. While the MGS will help to boost Rolls-Royce production beyond the current 1,000-unit level, Robertson does not envision the brand selling more than 2,500 cars annually. That’s because the goal is keep Rolls-Royce exclusive by limiting the number of vehicles within select markets.—KMK