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EDITIONS
 Thursday, 2 January, 2003, 08:43 GMT
Rolls-Royce: Technology and craftsmanship
Rolls-Royce's factory at Goodwood
Plants will cover the factory roof to help it blend in


The stark steel structures that make up Rolls-Royce's new manufacturing plant at Goodwood are impressive.

Here are clear signs of future grandeur, penned by one of the best designers in the land.

Open in new window : In pictures
Unveiling the new Rolls-Royce Phantom

The building signals that Rolls-Royce's new creation will make a spectacular, yet discreet statement.

And that's before we've even had a chance to see the new four-door saloon.

Expensive

The third of January 2003 is the launch date for the first Rolls-Royce since the German car maker BMW bought the marque in 1998.

Rolls-Royce logo
BMW only bought the badge
Since then, BMW's rival Volkswagen, which acquired its sister brand Bentley at the same time, has been producing and distributing Rolls-Royce cars.

But from here on, these two quintessentially British brands will be locking horns, battling for a share of the market for ultra-luxurious cars.

Bentley has already declared its intention to target rich 40-something drivers with its increasingly sporty models.

And it appears Rolls-Royce plans to follow suit.

"The view that a Rolls-Royce is purely for old people, I think, is about to be smashed," the man in charge of the project, Tony Gott, tells BBC News Online.

"It's just not going to be the case anymore."

Blending in

It seems no expense was spared in building the new Rolls-Royce factory.

A whopping 60m was invested in the building alone, a design by Sir Nicholas Grimshaw, the architect of the Eden Project in Cornwall.

Tony Gott
Mr Gott: "The view that a Rolls-Royce is purely for old people, I think is about to be smashed"

"To blend in with the beautiful surrounding countryside of the Goodwood Estate, it will be partly sunk into the ground and will be covered by 'Europe's biggest green roof' with living plants," Rolls-Royce says.

But it is on the inside the real revolutions will take place.

Here, 350 people will build one thousand hand-built cars per year, Mr Gott enthuses, insisting that a fresh start away from the Crewe factory is an advantage rather than a hindrance.

The construction of a man-made lake
A man-made lake is being built next to the factory
By starting afresh, Rolls-Royce has managed to create a "modern fusion of the best craftsmanship, the best technology and the best infrastructure" without being bogged down by old practices, he insists.

The car maker will take advantage of BMW's engineering skills, but will not be using its parts.

Rolls-Royce is not prepared to move far beyond its traditional image of soft leather seats and decorative wood interiors.

About half the Goodwood workforce will man the wood and leather shops, Mr Gott says.

Independent operation

Critics have spurned Mr Gott's efforts, however, insisting that it takes more than an expensively bought badge to make a Rolls-Royce.

But Mr Gott, who worked for Rolls-Royce and Bentley Motor Cars for 17-and-a-half years, most recently as the company's boss, insists that the project will succeed - even though BMW "only bought the right to use the Rolls-Royce name".

"The Rolls-Royce business within the BMW group is not a charity.

"It is there as a stand-alone business and it is expected to return a profit."

And given that "disposable income and wealth has grown considerably over the last few decades, and there's no real signs of it slowing down", there should be plenty of room for both Bentley and Rolls-Royce to prosper, Mr Gott believes.

See also:

23 Dec 02 | Business
24 Dec 02 | Business
27 Sep 02 | Business
16 Sep 02 | England
07 Mar 02 | Business
06 Mar 02 | Business
07 Jan 02 | England
20 Dec 01 | England
23 Nov 01 | Business
19 Oct 01 | Business
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