LONDON - Rolls-Royce and Bentley Motor Cars Ltd. are introducing two used-car certification programs, one for each brand, in a bid to restore customer confidence in the long-term value of the marques.
That confidence was badly shaken after the sale of the company to Volkswagen AG in 1998 and the subsequent split of the marques that will give Rolls-Royce to BMW and Bentley to VW in 2003.
The uncertainty caused sales and residual values to plummet, a fact the company acknowledges.
Sales plunged, even though a new Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph and Bentley Arnage had just been introduced in 1998. When new cars aren't selling, used-car values plunge. Rolls-Royce and Bentley fell back on incentives and took the drastic step of cutting off new-car supply in order to revive used-car prices.
'I don't think anybody realized the implications the sale would have on our market plans. Rolls-Royce and Bentley owners voted significantly with their feet,' said Malcolm Wade, managing director for Rolls-Royce in the United Kingdom and the Middle East.
The company believes the comprehensive certification programs will rebuild the values.
Under the program, 3-year-old cars will be covered by a three-year unlimited mileage, manufacturer-backed warranty. Cars between three and seven years old will be covered by a two-year unlimited mileage warranty and cars from seven to 17 years old will come with a one-year unlimited mileage warranty. Customers also get roadside assistance and full service histories.
Customers not happy with their secondhand vehicles can return them within 30 days or 1,000 miles.