LUXURY car maker Rolls-Royce is scaling back the glitz as it announces a period of “post-opulence” with the release of the new, classier Ghost.
In an open letter, CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös, who has been at the helm of Rolls-Royce for more than a decade, said that the new model has been in the works for the last five years, and that the new Ghost has been “designed, engineered, and crafted from the ground up” according to the changing desires of its well-to-do clientele.
The Rolls-Royce chief noted that the Ghost, the first generation of which was released in 2009, has been the marque’s most successful model, due in part to its “pared-back simplicity”. He argued that the Ghost is a car that clients enjoy driving themselves, as well as being driven around in.
Two trademark Rolls-Royce components from the first-generation Ghost have remained: the iconic Spirit of Ecstasy bonnet sculpture, and the umbrella that slots neatly into the door.
The result of the redesign, says Müller-Ötvös, is the “purest expression of Rolls Royce yet”. He said: “It distils the pillars of our brand into a beautiful, minimalist, yet highly complex product that is perfectly in harmony with our Ghost clients’ needs and, I believe, perfectly in tune with the times in which we are all living.”
The need for a more austere design was clocked by Rolls’ “Luxury Intelligence Unit”, which is presumably a group of people at the company’s Goodwood HQ whose sole job is to make sure that the Rolls-Royce brand can stay classy as well as relevant.
The unit has reportedly been tracking the emergence of a desire for less ostentatiousness from their clients for a number of years; a movement, in its own words, “towards luxury objects that celebrate reduction and restraint – that don’t shout, but rather, whisper.”
That is not to say that the brand of luxury that Rolls-Royce has become synonymous with is gone forever. “Of course, there will always be a place in this world, and at Rolls-Royce, for items and products of opulence that express the very best of human endeavour, inspire greatness and present a sense of theatre and magic,” said Müller-Ötvös.
The German noted that the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic had an impact on the development of the second-generation Ghost — a rival to the Bentley Flying Spur (a car to which Jeremy Clarkson has recently treated himself). The pandemic, which has had catastrophic effects on British car makers including Bentley, Aston Martin and McLaren, reportedly reminded the CEO that the company “has endured with resilience and continues to serve as a symbol of ambition and endeavour”.
Being wholly owned by the BMW group, Rolls-Royce does not seem to have suffered quite as severely as other British marques. The company under the same name that manufactures plane engines, and is entirely separate to the BMW-owned car making operation, announced 9,000 job losses back in May.
Apart from the scaled-back sense of luxury, we don’t know much about the new Ghost, which is expected to debut in the Autumn. Rolls-Royce is expected to make further announcements over the next few weeks.