Superyachts.com sat down with David Archibald, President of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars North America, at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show last week to discuss the brand’s enduring success, the parallels between Rolls-Royce and the superyacht industry, and his expectations for the future of car design.
Mr Archibald began by telling us about the nature of the Rolls-Royce customer and the hallmarks that they share.
“I think the key thing is there is no such thing as the average customer,” he told Superyacht.com’s Shari Liu. “They are all very different, but what they do share is a love of luxury, a love of the best.”
"Our owners tend to be professionals who are really on their game. They may be industry leaders, they may be athletes, they may be entertainers. Certainly a lot of them have got an entrepreneurial spirit and that’s really what they bring.
“They want to be associated with the pinnacle of an automotive brand, and they want customer service and attention to their needs. They are a very diverse group, they are very challenging sometimes, but they are great fun to give good service to.”
What does Mr Archibald think are the parallels between Rolls-Royce and superyachts in terms of design and performance?
“Where we have a lot of similarities,” he said, “is the individualisation, or what we term ‘bespoke’, where you can go and order something to your taste.
“What we’ve found interestingly is that some people who have been ordering a yacht at the same time that they’ve been ordering a car have wanted to have similar features in both vehicles.”
And how does Mr Archibald see luxury car design evolving in the coming years?
“I see it very simply,” he said. “There will still be those iconic features that will separate every car company. So with Rolls-Royce it’s the grille, it’s the Spirit of Ecstasy.
“But I think the biggest difference in design is actually that we’re all under massive pressure to reduce emission and improve efficiency in terms of fuel economy, and the only way we’re going to do that is by changing materials.
“We’ve got to get to lighter materials, and I think that will help us in terms of some slightly different designs, because the drag coefficient will reduce.”
Finally, we asked Mr Archibald if there was anything else he’d like to tell us in regards to Rolls-Royce.
“I think just to reiterate,” he said, “we’re over 100 years old, we still have some of the most incredible craftsmen and women in the world and the interesting thing again, getting back to the superyachts, the south coast of England is not where you would expect to find a car factory.
“But when we first chose to go there one of the reasons was that there was a skilled workforce on the south coast who were building yachts.
“So many of the people who are in our factory – who work with leather, work with veneer – they are craftspeople who learnt their trade outside the industry. But we brought them in and really taught them how to turn their knowledge into making Rolls-Royce and the pinnacle products, so that’s a really interesting tie in on the yacht side.
“So it’s craftsmanship with the greatest technology that we can have in the 21st century.”