It used to be that if you bought a Rolls Royce, you also hired a chauffeur to drive it for you. That was sort of the point of a Roller, was to be an opulent fortress on wheels to relax in, while Carlyle the Chauffeur handled driving duty for you. Now, though, it seems that the brand’s clientele, and in turn the brand itself, is changing to more of a driver’s brand.
Don’t mistake that for Rolls Royce making proper driver’s cars, because it most certainly is not doing that. Use the words “handling” or “sporty” in Goodwood and you’ll be hanged in the Tower of London before dawn. Instead, Rolls becoming a driver’s brand simply means that customers are buying Rollers and actually driving them themselves.
“We might have formerly been chauffeur-driven, but that has completely changed. The minority of cars we sell are for chauffeurs, with the exception of maybe the Phantom in long wheelbase form. Everything else is purely driver’s cars.” Rolls Royce boss Torsten Muller-Otvos recently said to Motoring.
A lot of the reason for this is the average age of the brand’s clientele base. Much younger, wealthy customers are the ones buying Rollers nowadays and they want to actually drive their cars. “With apps, phones and so on you can make money in early years, quite a fortune. Money today is not any longer inherited, it is very much self-gained and self-achieved, and many of these people want to spend it, which is good.” said Muller-Otvos.
The idea of a chauffeur will continue to die out as autonomy becomes available. If a Rolls Royce has the ability to drive itself, why hire a chauffeur when you can drive for as long as you want and then turn driving duties over to the car when you no longer want to? Though, Muller-Otvos does say that Rolls won’t turn to autonomy until the tech is at least at Level 4. “Owners only want that technology at a level that is really convenient and really brings you advantages,” he said.