Would you think less of Rolls Royce if the maker of ultra-prestigious sedans decided to build an SUV?
The company's chief executive believes that such a move would not compromise the marque's exclusive image.
Speaking to journalists in Singapore on Tuesday, Torsten Müller-Ötvös said the firm is now in the early stages of designing its first SUV for the super rich.
"I have tasked our designers to come up with some ideas on paper how they would imagine our car, the Rolls-Royce, would look like in this segment," he said.
"This segment is interesting, it keeps growing and growing and growing, even at a time when the whole automotive industry was quite in a crisis."
NOT IN THE GENES
The motoring media is abuzz over the idea of a Rolls-Royce SUV but Torsten Müller-Ötvös said the British company would tread carefully as "Rolls-Royce is not sporty, Rolls-Royce is not utility (and) it is not in the genes of this brand".
"There is no decision yet made, and we aren't rushing it, and there is also really no need to enter that segment. It only makes sense if this can be credibly represented by Rolls-Royce," he said.
Bentley, Rolls-Royce's British-based rival, in July said it would go ahead with plans to launch an SUV by 2016. Lamborghini is also eyeing the SUV market along with Fiat's Maserati.
Porsche is well ahead of the pack, with its global sales numbers having been boosted by its hugely popular Cayenne SUV.
Müller-Ötvös, who was on a tour of Asian dealerships, said demand in the fast-growing region remains robust, underpinned by brisk sales in China.
Rolls-Royce sold 3575 cars in 2012, the highest-ever total in the 108-year history of the company, beating the previous record of 3538 set the previous year.
Müller-Ötvös said about "28 to 29 percent" of sales were in China while another 30 percent were in the United States.
EXCLUSIVITY STILL KEY
The former BMW executive said Rolls-Royce would avoid going the way of "mass luxury brands", which have focused on increasing sales volumes.
"I think that exclusivity is very much related to the volume... We aren't pushing into volumes like 10 000 or 15 000," he said. -AFP