My Car Quest

September 27, 2021

Editorial: Rolls Royce Dawn and Wraith Fading Away

Come the Dawn…er, maybe not…

by Wallace Wyss –

Some things seem eternal. Like triumphant troops marching down Main Street after a war. But when I heard Rolls Royce is stopping importing the convertible Dawn and the two door Wraith coupe to the USA, I was gobsmacked. How could they? We, meaning the US, surely be their best market.

Rolls Royce Dawn

At the time of the Phantom drophead, CAR magazine predicted there should be a two seater. I say whichever company fields a monster two seater could grab the luxury top spot now that Rolls is pulling the Dawn drophead out of the US.

But the truth is one is based on a 2009 BMW chassis and the other on a 2015 BMW chassis so the platforms are old. So I am thinking, hey, Monterey Car Week is coming, maybe we get a peek at the successors to those two.

But the bigger cloud over the whole thing is the rate of conversion to electric platforms. Lotus has already announced one last internal combustion car will be made before they go all electric in 2025. Which now that automakers are taking orders for 2022 cars isn’t that far off. Jaguar cancelled a completed XJ sedan after sending millions on it because it was an internal combustion car. They are similarly challenged by the coming electric wave.

Wayne Kady

More than 50 years ago I saw this drawing by GM’s Wayne Kady proposing a Sedanca de Ville. Whoever comes up with a daring luxury car now could grab some of Rolls’ market.

I think a solution is to take BMW’s fastest internal combustion car, maybe gut it, and rebuild it as a hybrid with decent range in all electric mode. That could be the new Rolls ragtop. Trying to build it on an all electric platform might be too challenging if they haven’t started yet. But by pulling those two top-of-the-luxury-car-niche cars out of the US market they have opened the door for Bentley to move in and take over the top niche.

But how prepared is Bentley to furnish a top of the line electric coupe and convertible? The trouble is the Greens in Europe are aiming at passing laws that make some plush areas of each major city electric only, first on weekends but they will keep expanding that. Imagine buying the top-of-the line Rolls and not being able to drive downtown because it’s not electric? That might happen in Europe before it happens here but it’s going to happen.

So as I sit here, out on the farm so to speak, 40 miles East of Los Angeles, I wonder if the world’s most prestigious car has got a surprise for us, or are they withdrawing from the field of battle one unit at a time?

2003-Cadillac-Sixteen-concept-driving

Bob Lutz tried several times to have GM build an ultimate luxury car but the Board of Directors shot him down. If they had done it, they could aim at Rolls now.

As an American I wish we had a world class luxury car to fill the void but those V16s that Bill Mitchell and later Bob Lutz wanted to make at GM got shot down. Ford lost their way on the Continental. Chrysler had a prototype a few years ago that could have been a $80,000 luxury car but they lost their nerve. America’s automakers are like saying “Sure we can make hamburgers but if you want Filet Mignon…”

But if Rolls doesn’t announce a replacement quick, they will have vacated the top spot before the threat is even defined. I hate to see it…

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss

THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss has advised automakers in marketing including Lancia, Mazda, Toyota and Ford.
 
 
 

 

 

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Editorial: Rolls Royce Dawn and Wraith Fading Away
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Editorial: Rolls Royce Dawn and Wraith Fading Away
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As an American I wish we had a world class luxury car to fill the Rolls Royce void but those V16s that Bill Mitchell and later Bob Lutz wanted to make at GM got shot down.
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