The article by Andrea Chang, longtime reporter on technology and the retail industry, is certainly impressive. It relates to the announcement by Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Chief Executive Torston Muller-Otvos of their newly released Phantom VIII model he describes as an “icon, an artwork … a dominant symbol of wealth and human achievement … fit for a connoisseur of luxury in the extreme.” Considering its price, starting at $450,000, the vehicle should be nothing less.
The firm enjoys a prestigious history. Rolls-Royce Limited, founded in 1904 by Charles Stewart Rolls and Frederick Henry Royce, owned a British luxury car and aero engine manufacturing business. It was incorporated March 15, 1906, as an entity for their ownership of their Rolls-Royce business. Through the century its vehicles became the most valued in the world as it developed a reputation for superior engineering quality.
Although through the years Rolls-Royce maintained its reputation for automotive excellence, as a commercial firm it has had its ups and downs. In the latter decades profitability became unattainable, with its bankruptcy in the 1970s being particularly traumatic. We now witness its successor company function, in which only its prestigious name remains. And how does it market its product? With a feature called the Embrace, “As the patron settles into the car, an assistant or valet steps forward and lightly touches the sensor on the door handle so it whispers closed of its own account, enveloping the occupant in ‘the Embrace.’” Can anyone in their right mind relate to a word of that nonsense?
Despite the Phantom VIII’s 6.75-liter twin turbo V-12 engine and all-aluminum space frame underpinning its lighter, stiffer and quieter propulsion, together with the porcelain flowers displayed behind the Gorilla Glass, the vehicle does nothing my 2012 Nissan Altima – current value about $9,500 – cannot do. A vehicle should offer dependable transportation. Beyond that the finery is little more than the basis for engaging marketing. When the price reaches close to a half-million dollars, its purchase defies all rationality.