Rolls-Royce CEO Claims COVID Deaths 'Quite Massively' Helped Sales: 'Life Can Be Short'

Torsten Muller-Otvos
Torsten Muller-Otvos

Jeff Spicer/Getty Torsten Müller-Otvös

Rolls-Royce sales are booming in large part due to the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic, said the CEO of the ultra-luxury car brand.

"Quite a lot of people witnessed people in their community dying from COVID, that makes them think life can be short, and you'd better live now than postpone it to a later date," said Torsten Müller-Otvös, according to the Financial Times.

"That also has helped [Rolls-Royce sales] quite massively," he added, per the outlet.

As of Tuesday, at least 5,495,238 people worldwide have died of COVID, according to the New York Times. More than 839,308 of them were in the U.S.

Müller-Otvös made the comments following the automaker's biggest sales year yet: According to the Financial Times, Rolls-Royce sold 5,586 vehicles in 2021, a 49 percent increase from 2020.

The cost of a 2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost starts at $314,000, while its most expensive model, the 2022 Phantom, starts at $460,000, according to Car and Driver. The newest Rolls-Royce that Americans are most likely to see on the streets, an SUV named Cullinan, starts at $336,000. Both the Cullinan and the new Ghost were credited with driving the 2021 sales jump, the Financial Times reported.

Those price tags put the iconic British brand's vehicles well out of reach for the typical American car consumer, which, on average, spent about $46,000 on each new vehicle in October, Kelley Blue Book said.

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Rolls Royce
Rolls Royce

Martyn Lucy/Getty Rolls Royce

So who exactly is buying vehicles that cost as much as homes? Rolls-Royce said its average customer is now 43 years old, the Financial Times reported.

While China and the Americas each made up 30 percent of sales in 2021, Europe accounted for 20 percent and the Middle East had 10 percent.

"All markets were booming worldwide," Müller-Otvös told the Financial Times. "That is something I've never seen before."

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Though automakers have been affected by a global shortage of semiconductors, Rolls-Royce has gotten by because they don't manufacture as many vehicles as the likes of Toyota and GM, and the company's owner, BMW, assisted in securing enough chips to meet the demand for Rolls-Royce models, the Financial Times reported.

"We have fought hard to get the chips we needed for all cars," he told the newspaper.

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