Growth at Rolls-Royce Motors slows on China ‘hesitation’
LONDON (Reuters) – 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 one 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 per cent and 150 per cent 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.