Steve Cropley: Big change afoot at Rolls-Royce and JLR

This week, our man on the move gives his thoughts on the upcoming Rolls-Royce Ghost, pens a list of must-drive cars and draws a link between architecture and car production.

MONDAY

Have you heard of post-opulence? Rolls-Royce has been trying to help us understand this concept in a series of communications running up to the launch of its new Ghost later this year.

We’ve recently had an open letter from CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös, and now there’s a video from the firm’s designers. The gist is that, despite Rolls’ long-lived connection with ultimate levels of wealth and luxury, the new car (like the old one) will be a practical driving proposition, offering high standards but as much restraint as the average £250,000 saloon buyer could want.

It strikes me that the new Ghost’s designers have had a tough job, simply because the outgoing model is so stylish and graceful. I love that long, confident line that runs the length of the car. And I remember BMW’s design boss, Chris Bangle, telling how he came over all emotional when he first saw the Ghost in the design studio, because it looked so beautiful. I see online that you can now buy healthy cars for around £70,000. That would be an adventure, wouldn’t it?

TUESDAY

Out of the electronic ether comes word that the new CEO of Jaguar Land Rover, replacing Sir Ralf Speth, will be ex-Renault boss Thierry Bolloré, fired from the position last October, evidently for being seen as too close to Carlos Ghosn and too keen to promote Renault’s interests at the expense of Nissan’s. Seems he’s also an electric car expert and a specialist in component supply who has worked for a long time in South-East Asia and China. Which rather shows the Tata management’s priorities for JLR in future.

Minutes after this news lobbed, Jato Dynamics (the statistics people) issued a release that summarises one of Bolloré’s chief challenges: across Europe in June, just 1.7 diesel cars were sold for every one electrified model. Meanwhile, sales of SUVs rose 40% year on year. So what’s the solution for diesel-heavy, SUV-only Land Rover?

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