Following news that sales had fallen 26% in 2020, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Ltd. announced on April 8 that the first quarter of 2021 went much better.
So far this year, Rolls-Royce has sold the most vehicles in the marque’s 116-year history, up 62% from the same period in 2020. The number of vehicles delivered globally, 1,380, also exceeds the brand’s previous record, set in 2019—and sets up the automaker for a bullish year even while the pandemic continues. “We have every reason to be optimistic for the remainder of 2021,” said Chief Executive Officer Torsten Müller-Otvös.
Sales expanded the most in China, an unsurprising gain considering other automakers’ success there. Bentley Motors Ltd.’s sales in the country doubled in 2020, according to brand President Adrian Hallmark; China will become Lamborghini’s second-biggest market by the end of this year, CEO Stephan Winkelmann told Bloomberg in March.
But it was in a lesser market in the U.S. where Rolls-Royce got its most surprising boost: Sales in Florida were up 40% from the first quarter of 2020.
One dealer in South Florida says that while his showroom typically carries almost 30 Rolls-Royces in stock, it now has just four—and everything coming in has already been sold.
“People are spending money,” he says. “So many hedge funds have been moving [here]. That has really influenced our business.”
The movement bears witness to the Covid-related migration of wealthy buyers to secondary markets such as Florida and Texas, where Austin has become the so-called Silicon Valley of the Southwest. Rolls-Royce released its Ghost sedanthere in 2020 and saw sales increase there by double digits in the first quarter this year.
The growth was pushed specifically by sales of the Cullinan SUV and the new Ghost, according to numbers released by the brand. That may help explain the big first-quarter boost: Martin Fritsches, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Americas president and CEO, had attributed the below-average sales in 2020 to the rollover lull between the first-generation Ghost and the new one, which hit showrooms just in time for the start of the new year.