Rolls-Royce isn't an independent British luxury company. It hasn't been since 2003 when BMW Group acquired full control of the automaker. On Friday, the luxury marque's top executive acknowledged that without BMW, the brand would be dead.
Speaking to Australian website Go Auto, Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös said he's glad to be a part of the BMW Group. He went on to say "we would never exist anymore" if it weren't for being part of BMW. Having the large automaker behind the small Britain-based company means Rolls-Royce doesn't have to go it alone when it comes to meeting regulatory requirements. Other important systems, such as electronics and infotainment, also come from BMW, which leaves Rolls-Royce to focus on the finer things.
Rolls-Royce Extended Wheelbase Phantom Privacy Suite
However, Müller-Ötvös said that hardly means any of its cars are gussied up BMWs. He said, for example, the Cullinan SUV is not a modified BMW X7. Instead, Rolls-Royce gains access to the important bones and ensures the vehicle looks, feels, and drives like a Rolls-Royce. The luxury brand doesn't share powertrains with BMW, either. Instead, the iconic 6.75-liter V-12 engine is a British powerplant through and through. What customers don't see, touch, or feel, are the shared BMW components.
Under the BMW Group, Rolls-Royce also plans to take a backseat in developing autonomous driving technologies and electrification. BMW will be responsible for developing and implementing the technologies, and the CEO reiterated that its customer base isn't exactly howling for such things anyway. Müller-Ötvös said in 2017 that the brand would not carry out half-steps and had no plans for hybrid models. Instead, Rolls-Royce will go fully electric with time. That's despite rumors a Cullinan hybrid is in the cards.
2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan
BMW named Rolls-Royce as a brand bound for electrified models in 2017.
Müller-Ötvös said he considers the brand he oversees a "follower" with respect to self-driving technology and electrification. The reasoning is Rolls-Royce only wants to introduce such elements when the technology is truly effortless. Today, advanced driving systems can maybe take control for a few miles. That provides no value to Rolls-Royce clients, per the brand's chief. He'd be interested when the technology reaches Level 4 and occupants can read a book instead of monitor the road.
There's no expectation for Rolls-Royce to be first in such areas. At the end of the day, "we are not selling a car here: we are selling a luxury good," he proclaimed.