New owner Volkswagen AG is moving Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Inc. to VW's U.S. headquarters in Auburn Hills, Mich.
'It makes sense to take advantage of the infrastructure that VW offers,' said spokesman Richard Charlesworth in a phone interview from Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Ltd. in Crewe, England.
After a reorganization, Rolls will have only a 'handful' of people at its U.S. sales headquarters, vs. 32 today, he said. Total employment will rise to 40, but most employees will be divided among three new U.S. regions, Charlesworth said.
Dean Miller, president of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars in Paramus, N.J., for the last 13 months, quit last week rather than relocate, said Charlesworth.
Alasdair Stewart, director of customer services in Britain, will take Miller's place in the first quarter of 1999, and the office is expected to move in April 1999.
Rolls has shrunk compared with a decade ago, when it had 120 U.S. employees and triple the sales volume it has today. The U.S. subsidiary sold 441 units through November, including a handful in Canada - 21 percent ahead of the year-ago period. Worldwide, 1998 sales were off 14 percent to 1,436. Last spring, Rolls introduced the Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph and the Bentley Arnage, its first all-new models since 1980.
VW outbid BMW for Rolls-Royce and Bentley earlier this year, even though parent Vickers PLC tapped BMW first. The Silver Seraph and the Arnage have BMW engines.
But BMW outmaneuvered VW for the legal right to the Rolls-Royce brand, which was controlled separately. In January 2003, VW keeps the Bentley brand, the factory and the rest of the company; BMW gets the Rolls-Royce brand.