MOST vehicle makers around the world had a rather miserable 2019 trading year, but not so for sections of the luxury market.

Rolls-Royce, for one, had a ball as demand for its first SUV, the Cullinan, soared by 25 per cent.  

The 116-year-old British company — well, it’s owned by Bayerische Motoren Werke — has just announced it sold 5152 cars in 2019.

It’s an all time record, and up from the 4107 units sold in the previous year.

“Worldwide demand last year for our Cullinan SUV has driven this success and is expected to stabilise in 2020,” chief executive officer Torsten Mueller-Oetvoes said.

Now there’s a fine Brit name for you.

The Cullinan is named after the largest diamond ever found, a 620g, 3100 carat  whopper, proving that a diamond is not only a girl’s but also a luxury car maker’s best friend.

The diamond was found in South Africa in 1905, the big SUV was unveiled in 2018. 

Although it’s not the kind of vehicle that you’d want to take on the Tanami, or some other Outback track, the Cullinan is designed from the start to be a serious off-roader. 

Its 6.75-litre, twin-turbo V12 engine has been re-tuned to deliver 420kW at 5000 revs and peak torque of 850Nm at just 1600rpm, and it drives all four wheels (a first for Rolls-Royce) via uprated driveshafts and all-wheel steering.

The luxury brand’s strong numbers serve as a breather at a time when the global motor industry is still facing various challenges amid a broader economic slowdown that dented sales of many car makers.

The US continues to be the biggest market for Rolls-Royce, accounting for about a third of its total sales, followed by China and Europe. 

Rolls-Royce also recorded strong growth of 29 per cent across the Middle East and Africa region last year. 

The company says the Middle East continues to be one of the strongest global markets for its highly bespoke vehicles.

Last year Rolls-Royce cars were sold in more than 50 countries around the world, through a global network of 135 dealerships. 

As a sidebar to this, in Australia, Lexus has entered its 30th anniversary year after setting an annual sales record in 2019.

The luxury lifestyle brand posted 9612 annual sales, 585 more than its previous record set in 2016 — a 9 per cent increase on 2018.

Most of these sales came from its SUV sector, where the brand recorded its highest full-year of SUV sales at 7704 units — up 21.76 per cent on 2018.

The news is not all good, however, because Nissan decided towards the end of 2109 to pull the pin on its luxury, or at least premium brand, Infiniti — after failing to make its mark with its second crack at the Australian market.

Re-launched here in 2012, Infiniti will reportedly stop selling cars in Australia in late 2020 — though there has been no official statement.

Nissan’s loss is Hyundai’s gain, because the Korean car maker has decided to have a red hot go at the segment with the launch in June of its own standalone luxury Genesis line.

We’ll see how this one pans out . . .

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Rollin' rollin' rollin' -- keep those 'Rollers' rollin' Stateside!

Buys

Bill Buys, probably Australia’s longest-serving motoring writer, has been at his craft for more than five decades. Athough motoring has always been in his DNA, he was also night crime reporter, foreign page editor and later chief reporter of the famed Rand Daily Mail. He’s twice been shot at, attacked by a rhinoceros and had several chilling experiences in aircraft. His experience includes stints in traffic law enforcement, motor racing and rallying and writing for a variety of local and international publications. He has covered countless events, ranging from world motor shows and Formula 1 Grands Prix to Targa tarmac and round-the-houses meetings. A motoring tragic, he has owned more than 90 cars. Somewhat of a nostalgic, he has a special interest in classic cars. He is the father of Targa star Robert Buys, who often adds his expertise to Bill’s reviews.
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