Rolls-Royce sold more cars in 2021 than in any previous year in its 117-year history. Its unexpectedly good sales year had little to do with sales of its SUV, the Cullinan, or with the company’s announcement that it plans to go all-electric by 2030. According to the carmaker’s CEO, Torsten Müller-Otvös, its record-breaking sales year is partly due to people dying from COVID-19.
Apparently, the best way to convince someone to buy an expensive car is to remind them that “life can be short,” as Müller-Otvös put it, and was later quoted by the Financial Times. Yes, in light of a global pandemic that’s killed millions of people, Rolls-Royce would just like to say, “YOLO.” Per the FT:
Quite a lot of people witnessed people in their community dying from Covid, that makes them think life can be short, and you’d better live now than postpone it to a later date. That also has helped [Rolls-Royce sales] quite massively.
The sales figures and demographics back up Müller-Otvös’ theory, too, since the average age of the company’s customers fell way down to 43. The CEO claimed this means that “for every 60-year-old, you need a client who is 20.” Clearly, rich people see the risk of dying from COVID-19 as a compelling reason to stop putting off buying a Rolls. Why wait?
Rolls-Royce sold 5,586 cars in 2021, which is a relatively small number in context but actually represents a 49 percent increase of overall sales from the year prior, 2020. And because the pandemic has affected countries across the globe, it looks like sales are up in all markets. In the biggest markets, sales are up by a third, according to the FT:
Growth was led by China and the Americas, which each accounted for about 30 per cent of sales, Europe 20 per cent and the Middle East 10 per cent. Sales in South Korea and Russia were also strong, said Müller-Ötvös.
Rolls-Royce also didn’t sweat the chip shortage because its parent company, BMW, didn’t have trouble getting enough chips for production. That’s one benefit of lower production numbers, I guess. Along with the profit margins of its cars, which I’d say are probably generous.
The best-selling models in 2021 were the Rolls-Royce Ghost, which starts at around $315,000, and the Rolls-Royce Cullinan, which starts at $330,000. Rolls-Royce says orders are booked through the third quarter of 2022. Look, making the world’s most expensive cars is a business, after all; even through a global pandemic, business is good.