Even under BMW ownership, Rolls-Royce has continued to produce refined British gentleman's cars rather than try to set new standards of luxury or technology. That approach has worked because Rolls-Royce doesn't have much competition, even in the $200,000-plus range that the Ghost occupies.
But Mercedes-Benz will aim a new S-class-based model at the $200,000 to $250,000 segment and plans to challenge Rolls with new levels of luxury and high-tech features such as semiautonomous driving features.
Rolls-Royce also may be forced to consider segments it previously has dismissed, including a sporty four-door crossover with coupe styling or even a station wagon-like vehicle similar to the Ferrari FF. That's not unthinkable with chief rival Bentley moving into the SUV segment.
BMW says it doesn't want to move much above the 7 series, so there's also room for Rolls-Royce to move down a notch.
Here is a summary of Rolls-Royce's product plans.
Ghost: The four-door sedan will be freshened early next year.
Wraith: The fastback debuts in the fourth quarter. The Wraith shares a platform with the Ghost sedan, but at 207.4 inches long, it is 5 inches shorter than the Ghost. The 122.5 inch wheelbase is 7.2 inches shorter.
The Wraith's 6.6-liter V-12 engine generates 624 hp, 61 hp more than the Ghost. It will use satellite data that detects changing road conditions to help shift its ZF eight-speed automatic transmission.
A convertible version will likely appear in two years.
Phantom: The sedan will be redesigned in 2016 and share its architecture with the BMW 7-series sedan. The second-generation Phantom will make extensive use of carbon, aluminum and other lightweight materials to improve fuel economy. There's also the possibility of an all-wheel-drive model using BMW's xDrive. A coupe version would follow in about two years. A convertible may be based on the coupe or Rolls may choose a four-door model.