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Rolls-Royce caters to customers' individual requirements

Goodwood, England. When the Germans took over Rolls-Royce they also had to accept that customers always get what they ask for.

Hermann Bohrer's experience is a case in point. A customer in New York pointed to a bunch of roses in his office and said: "I love this color. Can you paint my Rolls-Royce in this shade?"

Bohrer plucked off a rose petal, put it into his jacket pocket and gave the only answer conceivable for a Rolls-Royce manager: "Yes, sir."

He was pretty confident he could deliver. The robots in the paint shop at Rolls-Royce have a color system, supplied by BASF, that allows for a total of 45,000 different color shades.

The newly built factory at Goodwood, in the south of England, currently builds five Phantoms a day in a one-shift system from Monday to Friday.

Production chief Bohrer plans to build 1,000 this year and the output could be raised to 1,200 next year. Beyond that, he would have to look at added weekend or other additional shifts.

Body shells for the Phantom are being manufactured in a special unit at BMW's plant in Dingolfing, Germany. The Phantom's 12-cylinder 460hp motor, which has been modified for Rolls-Royce, is also supplied by the German parent.

Painting, assembly, final sanding and the fitting of the individual equipment take place in Goodwood. One of these prestige models costs at least 323,700.

Bohrer is proud of the 250 English plant workers. Each of them has complete knowledge of several work stages and manages cycle times of up to 120 minutes. "Usually two-minute cycles are common in automobile plants," he said.

Almost everything is handmade. A Phantom sedan takes at least 160 working hours to build.

There are 38 carpenters working on the vehicle's wood trim, most of whom started their careers working on furniture or yachts. Depending on the individual customer's order, they cut delicate veneer from bird's-eye maple or mahogany and smooth over transitions of wood grain with a paintbrush.

Tags: Automakers BMW

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