Rolls-Royce announces plans for super-luxury SUV. Here are 5 things we know about it

The Rolls-Royce logo. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
The Rolls-Royce logo. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

NEW YORK (Bloomberg) - Today Rolls-Royce sent white-gloved chauffeurs in Phantoms around New York City to deliver letters announcing plans to build a sports utility vehicle (SUV), making good on hints dropped by CEO Torsten Mueller-Oetvoes earlier this year.

Well, they're not calling it an SUV. They're calling it an "Everywhere Vehicle." It even comes with its own hashtag: #EffortlessEverywhere.

The announcement comes after months of rumors that Rolls would finally debut something to compete against Porsche's Cayenne, Mercedes-Benz's G-Wagon, Land Rover's Range Rover, and Bentley's (forthcoming) Bentayga. This now leaves Ferrari as the only major luxury automaker without an SUV in its lineup.n

Rolls has confirmed that it will be built on an all-new aluminum architecture (not one carried over from BMW's X5 or X7 lineup), and it will be able to cross "any terrain," according to the announcement letter. Executives decided to move forward with plans to make the rig after many "discerning customers" urged them to do so.

And that, officially, is all we know.

Rolls has proffered no photo along with the letter, no sketch or rendering of what we might expect. Executives have also declined to divulge a timeline for when it might be built ("still a few years off", said head of communications Gerry Spahn), what they might call it, or even whether it will have two or three rows.

But here are five likely things about Rolls' Everywhere Vehicle:

1. It will cost more than any other SUV on the market-and likely cost more than anything else in its current lineup.

2. It will sport a V12 engine and all-wheel drive.

3. It'll likely retain the flat vertical grill that makes a Rolls unmistakable from metres away.

4. Exotic woods, lambswool carpeting, mother-of-pearl inlays will be design essentials as well as champagne coolers, umbrellas hidden in the doors, and a locking bullet-proof glove box. Or so we hope.

5. Expect a backlash against the new model

Regardless of what it looks like. Much like the abuse Bentley and Porsche endured when they announced their own SUVs, luxury brand purists don't take kindly such obvious plays for sales and market share. They couch their reticence as concern about "protecting brand heritage," but they forget that even luxury brands must stay young in spirit, sensitive to current cultural norms, and nimble enough to venture where the market leads.

SUV sales rose 88.5 per cent from 2008 through 2013, according to IHS. By 2016 one in every five vehicles sold in the world will be an SUV.

With that kind of growth, a Rolls-Royce SUV makes perfect sense-even without seeing what it'll look like.

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