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Rolls Royce

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Rolls Royce
Vehicle Marque

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Official Site: rolls-roycemotorcars.com
Wikipedia: Rolls-Royce Limited
Wikipedia: Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

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A British brand of luxury cars starting in 1904 and based in Derby, England, United Kingdom.

Vehicle names used by Rolls Royce currently and throughout history include:  Corniche, Ghost, Phantom, Phantom II, Silver Cloud, Silver Cloud II, Silver Ghost, Silver Shadow, Silver Spur, Silver Wraith, and Wraith.

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History

The following section is an excerpt from Wikipedia's Rolls-Royce Motor Cars page on 30 June 2016, text available via the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited engineers, manufactures and distributes luxury automobiles and automobile parts worldwide. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited is a wholly owned subsidiary of BMW established in 1998 after BMW was licensed the rights to the Rolls-Royce brand name and logo from Rolls-Royce PLC and acquired the rights to the Spirit of Ecstasy and Rolls-Royce grill shape trademarks from Volkswagen AG. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited operates from purpose-built administrative and production facilities opened in 2003 across from the historic Goodwood Circuit in Goodwood, West Sussex, England, United Kingdom. Rolls-Royce Motors Cars Limited is the exclusive manufacturer of Rolls-Royce branded motor cars since 2003.

Although the Rolls-Royce brand has been in use since 1906, the Rolls-Royce Motor Cars subsidiary of BMW AG has no direct relationship to Rolls-Royce branded vehicles produced prior to 2003. The Bentley Motors Limited subsidiary of Volkswagen AG is the direct successor to Rolls-Royce Motors and various other predecessor entities that produced Rolls-Royce and Bentley branded cars between the foundation of each company and 2003, when the BMW-controlled entity started producing cars under the Rolls-Royce brand.

The Rolls-Royce Phantom four-door sedan was the first product offered for sale in 2003. Since then, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars has expanded its product line up to include an extended wheelbase version of the Phantom sedan, a Phantom two-door coupé and Phantom convertible version and the less expensive Ghost four-door sedan and Wraith two-door coupé.

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited was created as a wholly owned subsidiary of BMW in 1998 after BMW licensed the rights to the Rolls-Royce brand name and logo from Rolls-Royce PLC and acquired the rights to the Spirit of Ecstasy and Rolls-Royce grill shape trademarks from Volkswagen AG. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited has been manufacturing Rolls-Royce branded cars since 2003.

Although the Rolls-Royce brand has been in use on vehicles since 1906, the Rolls-Royce Motor Cars subsidiary of BMW AG has no direct relationship to Rolls-Royce branded vehicles produced prior to 2003. The Bentley subsidiary of Volkswagen AG is the direct successor to Rolls-Royce Motors and the other various predecessor entities that produced Rolls-Royce and Bentley branded cars between the foundation of each company and 2003.

Current chief executive Torsten Müller-Ötvös joined the company in January 2010, with a pledge to regain the quality standards that made Rolls Royce famous in the 1980s. That year, the company's sales in China increased by 600%, meaning that it is now Rolls Royce's second largest market after the US.

Ownership and licensing of trademarks

In 1998, Vickers decided to sell Rolls-Royce Motors. The most likely buyer was BMW, who already supplied engines and other components for Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars, but BMW's final offer of £340 million was beaten by Volkswagen's £430 million.

A stipulation in the ownership documents of Rolls-Royce dictated that Rolls-Royce plc, the aero-engine maker, would retain certain essential trademarks, including the Rolls-Royce name and logo if the automotive division was sold. Although Vickers plc sold the vehicle designs, nameplates, administrative headquarters, production facilities, Spirit of Ecstasy and Rolls-Royce grill shape trademarks to Volkswagen AG, Rolls-Royce plc chose to license the Rolls-Royce name and logo to BMW AG for £40 million, because Rolls-Royce plc had recently had joint business ventures with BMW.

BMW's contract to supply engines and components to Rolls-Royce Motors allowed BMW to cancel the contract with 12 months' notice. Volkswagen would be unable to re-engineer the Rolls-Royce and Bentley vehicles to use other engines within that time frame. With the Rolls-Royce brand identification marks split between the two companies and Volkswagen's engine supply in jeopardy, the two companies entered into negotiations.

Volkswagen agreed to sell BMW the Spirit of Ecstasy and grill shape trademarks and BMW agreed to continue supplying engines and components until 2003. Volkswagen continued to produce Rolls-Royce branded vehicles between 1998 and 2003, giving BMW time to build a new Rolls-Royce administrative headquarters and production facility on the Goodwood Estate near Chichester, West Sussex, and develop the Phantom, the first Rolls-Royce from the new company. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited became the exclusive manufacturer of Rolls-Royce branded cars in 2003. Rolls-Royce announced in September 2014 that a new technology and logistics centre will be built, due to open in 2016, 8 miles away from the main headquarters, in the seaside resort town of Bognor Regis.


Article Index

TypeTitle
2000 BookThe Magic of a Name: The Rolls Royce Story, The First 40 Years by Peter Pugh, Icon Books UK, Totem Books USA
DateArticleAuthor/Source
13 August 2005BMW bringt kleinen Rolls-Royce heraus Wikinews
10 January 2012Rolls Royce bricht VerkaufsrekordWikinews
5 November 2014Day With Rolls Royce Motor Cars, A Matt Hubbard, Speedmonkey
19 February 2015Why Rolls Royce HAD to Make an SUV Bill Crittenden
18 January 2017BMW Group of America, LLC, Incorporated, Receipt of Petition for Decision of Inconsequential NoncomplianceFederal Register: NHTSA (Jeffrey M. Giuseppe)




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