Rolls-Royce is hailing its new Cullinan SUV as a game changer for the brand in the Canadian market, particularly in Quebec where it’s expected to double the luxury automaker’s sales volume. An expansion there is planned in response to forecasted demand.
“The province of Quebec has a lot of understated wealth,” said Gad Bitton, president and chief executive officer of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Quebec and of Holand Automotive Group. “Typically, a Rolls-Royce store would do anywhere between 24 and 28 [new] cars. Our business will double. We can do 50 cars this coming year.”
Holand Automotive Group invested $22 million in rebuilding what was already one of the largest standalone Rolls-Royce dealerships in North America at 8525 boulevard Décarie in Montreal. The Rolls-Royce dealers in Toronto and Vancouver have also completed ground-up rebuilds, and the Calgary location’s rebuild is in progress.
A satellite storefront, also with Holand Automotive Group, is slated to be operational in Quebec City by the end of the third quarter of 2019.
“There is a [perception] that Montreal and Quebec are so understated that they wouldn't want a Rolls-Royce,” said Gerry Spahn, head of communications for Rolls-Royce Motor Cars North America. “That perception is no longer accurate.”
FROM CADILLACS TO CULLINANS
Bitton said the Cullinan, as well as the new Lamborghini Urus SUV, are attracting buyers to these ultra-high-end brands that his group “never would have thought would come forward.”
“They’ve given us the most allocation in Canada,” Bitton said. “We have 33 Cullinans actually sold with deposits. It surprised us because we thought that it would only be for a few people.
“And it's not only the older generation. Our buyers are anywhere from 35 to 55, and they're all up-and-coming young business guys, anything from digital to real estate entrepreneurs.
“People that were driving Cadillacs are now driving Cullinans.”
Rolls-Royce sold 108 units in Canada in 2018, up from 96 units in 2017. Adding Cullinan to the mix will account for a 50-per-cent increase nationwide, Spahn said. The Cullinan starts at $370,500.
“Once we hit a full year of pace of Cullinan … we’ll be looking at upwards of 150 Rolls-Royces delivered in Canada,” he said.
This increased demand is putting pressure on the brand’s production facility in Goodwood, UK. As reported by Automotive News, production there is now at peak capacity despite the addition of 200 employees.
“We are running on 100 per cent of production capacity, increasing the production capacity throughout the weeks and months, but still not being able to catch up to demand," said Martin Fritsches, CEO of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Americas.
“For the foreseeable future, demand is going to outpace our ability to produce, and that's perfectly fine with us,” Spahn said. “The beauty of Rolls-Royce is that we work very hard to keep it exclusive.”