NEW YORK -- About 80 percent of the Rolls-Royce ultraluxury cars sold in the U.S. are now custom ordered rather than purchased off dealership lots, the company's chief said.
Buyers who order their cars add twice the value in options compared with two years ago, when 75 percent of U.S. sales were customized, said Eric Shepherd, president of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars North America.
Increasing the custom -- or bespoke, in Rolls-Royce parlance -- side of the business has been a pet project of Shepherd's since he took the helm two years ago.
"The market here is instant gratification, and we needed through our dealers to educate the consumer about the process," Shepherd said. "Our business model is not like others'."
The average increase in options adds about 20 to 30 percent to the value of a Rolls-Royce car, said a spokesman.
That means an average $60,000 on top of the base price of a $296,500 Wraith fastback or $288,500 Ghost sedan. Both prices include a destination charge, but not the $1,700 gas guzzler tax.
Making Rolls-Royce cars, on average, worth 30 percent more ultimately will allow dealers to command higher prices in the certified pre-owned market, which is expected to grow in the coming years, Shepherd said.
Dealers don't carry inventory aside from one or two cars in the showroom for the buyers "who make this an emotional decision" and want a vehicle immediately, Shepherd said. Rolls-Royce has 36 U.S. dealerships.
The bespoke business ranges from family crests and logos on the seats and customized thread plates to using the wood from a private estate in the interior, Shepherd said.
Rolls-Royce now has 200 employees on the bespoke side at its factory in the U.K. The U.S. arm has hired a bespoke manager, Shepherd said. "Now that we have someone representing that product we continue to expand that business."