The British automaker is developing a second ultra-low-volume model with bespoke bodywork. Design chief Giles Taylor says that the car is planned for the "near future" and follows the widely admired one-off Sweptail model which was shown at the Villa d'Este concours event in Italy, last year. Taylor implies that there could be more than one example of this next model, although the number will be in the low single figures.
Rolls-Royce boss Torsten Müller-Ötvös saya that the company is exploring models with hand-beaten bodywork as part of its fast-growing bespoke business, what with the department now staffed with more than 100 designers, engineers, customer liaison staff, and more. “It's the future of luxury,” he says. “People don't want something others can get. They want something very unique. We've invested quite a lot in this. Bespoke is very important – without it, we wouldn't sell as many cars.”
One of the challenges of making panel-beaten bodies is “having the capacity to do it”, Müller-Ötvös adds, because these skills are hard to find. A promising solution “is 3D printing of panels”.
Further in the future, perhaps by 2040, Müller-Ötvös believes the advent of autonomous cars and the reduced need for pedestrian protection features could allow more creative scope. “It could bring the old era back,” he says, referencing the last century – a time when bespoke bodywork was built on a separate chassis.
Rolls-Royce’s bespoke department is an increasingly busy division in the company, having created several high-profile projects in recent history – including the Sweptail. It also fettled the four cars displayed at the Geneva motor show. Almost every Rolls-Royce ordered today features that department’s handiwork, at the request of the customer – a fact that the carmaker has, on occasion, revealed to our sister publication, Autocar UK.
However, the upcoming unnamed ultra-exclusive car is not likely to be quite as customer-involved as the Sweptail. Speaking at the Sweptail launch, Taylor said, “We will probably never repeat the level of involvement we had with a customer for this car [Sweptail], ever again – not because we don’t want to, but because it’s always fraught with risk that someone may misinterpret the end goal. It’s a risk you might end up with something that doesn’t fit the brand or suit the customer."
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In conversation with Torsten Müller-Ötvös, CEO, Rolls-Royce