Rolls-Royce Motor Cars will meet its worldwide yearly sales target of 1,000 Phantoms in 2004, despite a slow start at its new UK factory last year, say executives at the luxury carmaker.
BMW-owned Rolls-Royce suffered production delays last year that forced the company to fly more than 80 Phantoms to US customers.
One US analyst doubts that the high-end carmaker will meet the 1,000 sales target because she says wealthy Americans are reluctant to purchase the super-luxury model despite the US economy's upturn.
Rolls-Royce expects 40 percent of its Phantom sales to be in the USA and 20 percent of its sales to come from European countries such as the UK, the brand's biggest market in Europe.
Production at the Goodwood, UK, factory ramped up slower than expected because of the complexity of hand-building a car on a space frame, said Tony Gott, CEO of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Ltd.
Production is now at the planned rate of five cars a day. It was one car every two weeks at the start of 2003.
Gott said 481 Phantoms were produced last year; 200 of those cars were built during the last two months of 2003. Only 300 Phantoms were delivered to customers in 2003, the car's first full year of production.
Susan Jacobs, US analyst based in Rutherford, New Jersey, who specializes in the luxury-car market, doubts Rolls-Royce will meet its 1,000-unit sales target this year. The Phantom sells for $320,000 (E256,000) in the US and E320,000 in Europe. Jacobs said most of the activity in super-luxury cars will be in the under-$250,000 market.
"There is a wider variety of models coming between $100,000 and $200,000 that can capture new demand driven by a rebound in the economy and more favorable demographics," she said.
Rolls flew more than 80 Phantoms to the US on 747s during the last two months of 2003 so buyers could get their cars by year-end, said James Selwa, president of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars North America.