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Rolls-Royce to open Asia’s first brand studio in Korea

[THE INVESTOR] British supercar Rolls-Royce Motor Cars is set to open a brand studio in South Korea in November, looking to make an imprint on one of the burgeoning luxury auto markets in the Asia-Pacific region.

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Studio is the second permanent studio outside of the automaker’s headquarters in Goodwood, UK, and the first of its kind in Asia.

Taking up 200 square meters inside the BMW Driving Center in Incheon – 10-minute drive from the Incheon International Airport -- the studio caters to the carmaker’s loyal and new customers from Korea and other neighboring Asian countries. 


Torsten Muller-Otvos, CEO of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, speaks at a press conference at the Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Studio in Incheon on Sept. 29. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars
Torsten Muller-Otvos, CEO of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, speaks at a press conference at the Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Studio in Incheon on Sept. 29. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars


“Korea is very important,” Torsten Muller-Otvos, CEO of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, told reporters on Sept. 29 at the soon-to-be opened studio in Incheon.

“Last year, Korea grew faster than any other markets in Asia. And for us, it’s a key market in achieving healthy and sustainable long-term growth in Asia. We will continue to invest in Korea and this studio we present to you today is the crucial part of our investment.

Muller-Otvos, on his second visit to Korea since 2012, said the customer base has continued to grow as well as the automaker’s car lineup. He noted that the car -- which is mostly characterized as powerful and traditional -- is enticing the younger and more female drivers recently.

“We have already over the last few years brought the average age (of customers) down by over 10 years, from 56 to 45,” he said, citing open marketing strategy as well as a diverse lineup and cost offerings behind its changing clientele.

“I don’t want to see Rolls-Royce sitting on a pedestal. We want to be open and I want people to be involved in the brand and that has been a really good strategy over the past years.”

The studio is divided into two spaces. The Car Gallery is where the latest Rolls-Royce cars are on display, while the Atelier lounge, which embodies a British gentlemen’s club with a modern touch, is where the customers can personally tailor their Rolls-Royce for a one-of-a kind vehicle in the world. The service, known as Bespoke, allows customers to customize the details and style of their car, from embroidered initials on headrests to choosing interior and exterior colors, with the assistance of specialists.

The studio also offers a 2.6 kilometers closed-course for a test drive.

The automaker is aware of South Korea’s recent law implementations that cast challenges for the luxury market, including the tightened tax deduction rules on company cars and the anti-graft law that took effect on Sept. 28. But according to Paul Harris, regional director for the automaker’s Asia-Pacific region, Rolls-Royce believes the market is still strong on the back of its loyal customers. 


The Atelier lounge inside the Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Studio
The Atelier lounge inside the Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Studio

“We remain incredibly confident about the Korean market. That’s why we are here today,” Harris said.

On the impact of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Mueller-Otvost said the business has been running as normal. But given that Rolls-Royce’s 90 percent of sales are from overseas, he hopes the UK will be able to negotiate trade terms and conditions with other countries that are beneficial to its business.

By Ahn Sung-mi (sahn@heraldcorp.com)



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