Rolls-Royce gives OK to super-luxury SUV

NEW YORK  -- Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, entering a hot market segment where rivals have already pushed ahead, will develop an SUV in a major diversification for the 111-year-old British brand known for its luxury limousines.

The company sent white-gloved chauffeurs in Phantoms around New York City on Tuesday to deliver letters announcing plans to build the SUV, making good on hints dropped by CEO Torsten Mueller-Oetvoes earlier this year.

But they’re not calling it an SUV. They’re calling it an “Everywhere Vehicle.” It even comes with its own hashtag: #EffortlessEverywhere.

The announcement comes after months of rumors that Rolls would finally introduce something to compete against Porsche’s Cayenne, Mercedes-Benz’s G-Wagon, Land Rover’s Range Rover, and Bentley’s forthcoming Bentayga. It now leaves Ferrari as the only major luxury automaker without an SUV in its lineup.

Luxury off-roaders are becoming a new battleground for premium carmakers, with rival marques Bentley and Jaguar already announcing plans for their own SUVs.

Rolls-Royce, which is owned by Germany's BMW, did not specify a launch date for the new car, but said it had decided to make a luxury off-roader after consulting with its clients.

The iconic British carmaker sold 4,063 cars last year. Its main rival Bentley, which is owned by Volkswagen, said it had received about 4,000 advanced orders for its SUV which is due to hit showrooms in 2016.

Rolls-Royce has gradually expanded its model range to move beyond limousines like its Phantom model which has been on the market since 2003. The smaller Ghost II entered showrooms in late 2014, and the Wraith Coupe has been on sale since 2013.

Last month, British car maker Jaguar, known for its sporty saloons, said it too will launch an off-roader in 2016.

Reuters and Bloomberg contributed to this report.

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