Covid death toll drove Rolls-Royce to record car sales as rich adopted ‘life’s too short’ mentality, says CEO

Pandemic made 2021 ‘a phenomenal year’ for the prestige car company, according to CEO

Laurie Churchman
Tuesday 11 January 2022 21:28 GMT
Chief executive of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Torsten Muller Otvos
Chief executive of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Torsten Muller Otvos (PA)

The boss of luxury car maker Rolls-Royce has said Covid deaths spurred record sales last year, as the super rich adopted a “life can be short” mindset and splashed out on expensive goods.

With the wealthy unable to travel as much as they would like, there was more money around for them to spend on “the nice, lovely things in the world” amid the pandemic, the company’s CEO Torsten Muller-Otvos told the FT.

He added: “Many people also witnessed in their community people dying from Covid and that made them think that life can be short and you’d better live now than postpone it to a later date.”

It made for “a phenomenal year” for Rolls-Royce, he said.

The BMW-owned firm delivered 5,586 cars last year, up 49 per cent on 2020 and more than at any time in the marque’s 117-year history.

Mr Muller-Otvos told a virtual press conference it is “very much due to Covid that the entire luxury business is booming worldwide”.

The pandemic limited how much wealthy people could spend on high-end services and trips abroad.

“For that reason,” Mr Muller-Otvos said, there was “quite a lot of money accumulated worldwide, which was spent on luxury goods. We also profited from that.”

Rolls-Royce said there was strong demand for all its models in 2021, particularly the Ghost and Cullinan. Bespoke commissions were also at record levels.

The firm, based in Goodwood, West Sussex, is developing its first pure electric car, Spectre, set to be released towards the end of next year.

Mr Muller-Otvos hailed “unprecedented demand for all products in every global market” and said the company plans to build on its success and “evolve as a true luxury brand, beyond the realms of automotive manufacturing”.

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