LONDON Jan 10 Rolls-Royce Motor Cars posted
slower annual sales growth in 2012 as demand from wealthy
Chinese customers eased, meaning the United States regained its
position as the luxury carmaker's biggest market.
Rolls, owned by German carmaker BMW, on Thursday
said car sales rose 1 percent to a record 3,575 in 2012 from
3,538 cars a year earlier.
It was the company's third consecutive year of record sales,
but the growth rate was well below the 31 percent and 150
percent delivered in 2011 and 2010 respectively, and Chief
Executive Torsten Muller-Otvos warned that the group may not be
able to achieve another record performance in 2013.
"We can't deliver explosive growth all the time and the
luxury sector has certain natural limits," he told Reuters.
"Since the beginning of last year we have seen, not a
slowdown, but what I would call a hesitation from Chinese
customers such as tycoons and industrial leaders compared to how
they were feeling three years ago.
"We have seen explosive growth in China over recent years
and we knew this would come to a natural end."
Mainland Europe, including Russia, was Rolls' the third
biggest market, followed by the Middle East and Asia Pacific.
The luxury car market has been largely unaffected by the
economic downturn, helped by continued demand for premium
vehicles from Asia's mega rich. However, mass-market carmakers
such as Ford are cutting capacity and jobs because of a
slowdown in demand.
Rolls said it had expanded into a number of new markets in
2012, including Latin America. It now has a presence in more
than 40 international markets.
"We are globally well balanced now and don't count on one or
two regions. It has been tricky in certain southern European
markets but growth in other areas has made up for that," said
The firm, which sells most of its cars with some element of
bespoke personalisation, is expected to launch a new two-door
Ghost model this year and complete the expansion of its plant in
Goodwood in southern England.