As President of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars NA, Eric C. Shepherd oversees 38 dealers in the United States and Canada — the largest market in the world for Rolls-Royce — and has worked in the automobile industry since 1993 (he was previously with Mercedes-Benz). Though not even half over, it has already been a pretty big year for the brand. Sales have been booming, especially of customized cars and the wicked new Wraith, and the new Ghost Series II was recently unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show to worldwide acclaim. Shepherd recently spoke to JustLuxe about the future of the brand and its enviable position in the luxury automobile sector.
JustLuxe: How has Rolls-Royce maintained its position at the pinnacle of the luxury world?
Eric C. Shepherd: Part of Rolls-Royce maintaining its position as a leader in luxury is connecting to the desires and emotions of the consumer; and at the same time, offering our consumer something unique that no other brand can offer. That’s exactly why our Bespoke program has been met with enormous success. It goes beyond showing our clients a list of customization options — it’s about inviting customers into a creative dialogue to capture their vision and desires, cater to their individual needs, and make their dreams into a stunning reality.
JL: What drove Rolls-Royce to break record sales for bespoke last year?
ES: The trend of personalization across a wide range of consumer goods continues to grow on a global scale. Rolls-Royce is the go-to luxury carmaker for the connoisseur who demands the best in individualization. In 2013, almost 95 percent of cars purchased were personalized by their owners, reinforcing the fact that Rolls-Royce Motor Cars’ Bespoke business has become more successful than ever with its range of super-luxury cars reaching new heights.
JL: The Ghost Series II will make its North American Debut at the New York International Auto Show in April. Why did the company decide to redesign the Ghost?
ES: The Rolls-Royce Ghost model has been the cornerstone of our success around the world since its launch in 2009. In presenting a less formal, more contemporary and dynamic expression of Rolls-Royce luxury, the Ghost Series II update ensures the timeless, yet modern quality that the marque’s customers cherish. Ensuring that the Ghost remains at the very cutting edge of an ever-changing world is essential to satisfying the high demand of our customers. The Ghost Series II showcases a vehicle with the most recent technological advances and represents evolutionary changes to Ghost’s timeless aesthetic.
JL: What new features and bespoke customizations can consumers expect with the launch of the Ghost Series II?
ES: Part of this remodel is a new bonnet design featuring tapered "wake channel" emanating from the Spirit of Ecstasy that hints at Ghost Series II’s dynamism. The waft line leans further forward to give the Ghost further expression to its dynamic driving experience. The scope for Bespoke customization is extended with the introduction of two new, exquisitely crafted veneers — Paldao and Walnut Burr Crossband. Both the front and rear seats have been redesigned for comfort and effortless communication with the other passengers.
Re-designed LED headlights give off a whiter, brighter light that enhances driver safety while electronic reflectors move in the direction of travel in response to steering-wheel turns. Additionally, new anti-glare technology deflects light when a car approaches in the other direction to give Ghost Series II drivers the benefit of full-beam headlights at all times. And as with all of our vehicles, our Bespoke features for the Ghost Series II have no bounds. If a client wants to match the interior or exterior of a pair of shoes or favorite lipstick, we’ll do it.
JL: What aspects of the business will you continue to grow in order to build on the rich heritage of Rolls-Royce?
ES: Rolls-Royce is a brand with great prestige and a deeply-rooted legacy, yet remains relevant in the ever-changing, modern world. With our sustained commitment to design innovation and superior craftsmanship, Rolls-Royce will continue to attract new consumers that will help us grow. We saw this with the introduction of the Wraith in 2013. The vehicle engaged a larger number of female consumers, as well as younger consumers. The Wraith was in such high demand that it sold out before the first car ever hit the streets, and has an extensive waiting list. Additionally, the success of our unmatched Bespoke program whilst staying on the cutting edge of technology will also continue to extend the Rolls-Royce brand to greater heights.