Following its launch at the 2003 Detroit Motor Show, 300 Rolls-Royce Phantoms were retailed in this, the company's start-up year. Throughout 2004, the first year of full production, there has been a steady increase in customer demand, which has resulted in a total retail figure of 792 Phantoms – a rise of over 164 per cent compared to the previous year.
Sales and marketing director, Howard Mosher, commented, "We are extremely pleased with this result, which proves that there is strong demand for the Phantom. This is the greatest number of Rolls-Royce cars purchased in a single year for 14 years – and at a price which is substantially higher than previous models. I am particularly pleased that we are performing strongly across the world, with growth in Asia/Pacific, the Middle East and the UK in particular, building on our progress in North America."
With its worldwide retail and servicing network now virtually complete, the best-performing dealer partners are spread across three continents. Beverly Hills showed the strongest performance of the year, followed by New York, London and Tokyo. North America remains the largest market for the Phantom, accounting for 420 retails in 2004 – an increase of 150 per cent over 2003.
"Daily we are learning more about the patterns of customer demand," added Mosher. "One surprise has been the level of interest in Bespoke specifications, which are the special features which customers want, but which don't appear on the options list. We planned for 20 per cent of Phantoms to have Bespoke features, but the actual figure is more like 60 per cent. This is good news for the business and our production flexibility means that we can manage such surprises."
The Centenary year of Rolls-Royce saw celebrations taking place around the world. In January, a world tour organised by the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts' Club (RREC) started in New Zealand and finished six months later at Pebble Beach in California, with Rolls-Royce as the featured marque of the annual concourse event.
In the UK, Rolls-Royce took centre stage in Manchester on 4 May, for a special celebration of the first ever meeting between Charles Rolls and Henry Royce and then later at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
The focal point of the year was the unveiling of the Rolls-Royce Centenary Experimental Car, 100EX, which was revealed at the Geneva motor show in March to an enthusiastic welcome. This special four-seat, two-door, convertible, featuring a V16 engine and coach doors like the Phantom, has toured the world widely since March, including the US, Europe, Australia, Singapore, Korea, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Shanghai. 100EX takes pride of place on the Rolls-Royce stand at the 2005 Detroit motor show.
In November Rolls-Royce announced the launch of a new Convertible model, based on the design of 100EX. Powered by the same V12 engine as the Phantom and using the same lightweight aluminum space-frame structure, the new motor car will be hand built at the Goodwood manufacturing plant. Like 100EX it will be a two-door, four-seat motor car though slightly smaller than the Experimental Car. It will be launched in 2007.