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EVEN Roll-Royces don’t just sell themselves, but the company admits it was surprised at the difficulty in coming up with a campaign that introduced its first SUV, the Cullinan, and that customers embraced the concept quicker than expected.

In Australia to escort the first show car around the nation, Rolls-Royce global client sales manager Ian Grant admitted “we found it hard to market” the new model.

“We sat down and scoped it out – firstly, it’s an off-road vehicle, or is it?,” he told GoAutoNews Premium.

“Our chief executive Torsten Mueller-Otvos laid down the guidelines that the car had to be authentic and it had to be the pinnacle. That direction set by him has almost created its own segment.

“Is this a car that we market as an off-road vehicle or not? So for us, the marketing turned to putting the Cullinan into context and we were lucky because the Australian market understands the environment for this car.

“We had a fantastic display at the boat show in Perth and we showed this car in Sydney Harbour by putting it on the deck of the Star Ship ferry and then cruising around the harbour.

“That puts it in the context of where it will be – outdoors, perhaps among yachts, a second home, and the people who will be the Cullinan’s owners.

“From a marketing perspective, Australia is well suited because it aims at the lifestyle that Australians enjoy or aspire to. Cruising the river, dropping the jetski off at the jetty, heading to the casino. This car has it all.”

Mr Grant, who said that the Cullinan had been “hiding in plain sight for years” prior to its launch, is aimed at a strong family-oriented buyer group.

“By far the majority of interest has come from first-time Rolls-Royce buyers and they are quite young. The age range for Rolls-Royce now averages 39 years old,” he said.

“We are catering now for customers who say they want a car that is useable and family friendly and has an orientation towards their dynamic lifestyle. It transfers from country touring to a beach house to CBD traffic with absolute ease.”

He said interest in Australia had been overwhelming and that 95 per cent of cars would be bespoke.

“It would be very very rare to see any that look even similar,” he said.

“We have one-off coach-built cars that cost tens of millions of euros and we have some buyers who just want the car as it comes. There’s quite a range of demands from buyers.

“The first order we have taken in Australia was for a bespoke colour and set-up in the car. Our hand-built manufacturing process is a lot longer than other car-makers and deliveries won’t start until 2019.

“We are talking to rock collectors about creating capacity in the rear of the car to store their collections.

“One gentleman is very much into bird watching so he wants us to develop a suite in the back of the car so he can put his camera system in the car and keep it hidden in the boot tray.”

Mr Grant is touring Australia with a UK-spec car that he said was designed with the input of Australian dealers “to get it right for Australian customers”.

“It is Infinity Black paint with a high intensity of sparkle which then has a single mandarin pinstripe and then that orange colour is continued inside in the door insets and selected trim,” he said.

“It’s a sensory overload that other car makers just don’t have.”

By Neil Dowling

KPMG
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