Rolls-Royce China sales drop on luxury-buying crackdown

Elisabeth Behrmann
Bloomberg News

Rolls-Royce car sales in China are being hit as the nation’s wealthy pull back from ostentatious purchases amid a government crackdown on graft and conspicuous consumption.

“There’s a cool wind blowing in China on Rolls-Royce sales,” Peter Schwarzenbauer, the BMW AG board member who oversees the ultra-luxury unit, said Wednesday in Berlin. “We’ve adjusted production” to adapt to a decline of as much as 15 percent in Chinese deliveries.

The decline at Rolls-Royce reflects slowing sales of luxury models, as China’s millionaires rein in spending. Audi, the bestselling upscale car brand in the country, last month posted its first sales decline in the country in more than two years. Premium carmakers like BMW have long enjoyed double-digit growth rates as newly wealthy Chinese flocked to cars like the 7-Series sedan.

Globally, sales of Rolls-Royce vehicles, such as the 345,000-euro ($385,800) Phantom, declined 13 percent during the first quarter to 781 cars. Last year, the marque with the distinctive Spirit of Ecstasy emblem sold a record 4,063 autos, a rise of 12 percent.

“The money is there, but people don’t want to show off by driving around in a Rolls-Royce,” said Schwarzenbauer.