Rolls-Royce Motor Co (owned by BMW) sold 3,575 cars in 2012 (37 more than 2011). But the 1% growth was much lower than the 31% and 150% growth rates seen in the last two years. The company said most buyers are in the US (33 dealerships) and China (18 dealerships) but sales grew 26% in the Middle East (Saudi Arabia in particular, 2 dealerships), 21% in Europe and 18% in Asia. The majority of cars – 95% of Phantoms and 73% of Ghosts – were customized.
Buyers of the Phantom can choose from 44,000 paint colors and specify any leather color. And please, Americans, refrain from calling the rear-hinged doors suicide doors; they’re coach doors and they’re useful, too. The doors hold umbrellas for those rare days a passenger needs to step out and can’t pay someone to stop the rain. There are several variations of the Phantom including the handmade convertible Drophead Coupe – currently the most expensive model at $443,000. It debuted in 2007, when 253 were sold (that’s $112 million). R-R CEO John Rishton said Africa could become a bigger market in the next few years. So far there is only one dealership on the continent, in South Africa, where brand loyalty is strong. The Rolls-Royce Owners Club in Johannesburg has grown dramatically since its first meeting in 1975.