Jan 09 - 100 new UK jobs and a fourth consecutive record year for Rolls Royce, selling 3,630 cars. But the car maker's CEO tells Julian Satterthwaite he's not getting complacent.
It's boom time for big cars. Rolls Royce reporting another year of record sales and saying it will add jobs to help meet demand. Rival Bentley also seeing its best-ever year after a 19 percent jump in sales. But are there some clouds on the horizon? Growth looks set to slow in China - the top market for Rolls Royce, and number two for Bentley. The country's consumers might also be losing their taste for conspicuous consumption. LVMH and Gucci both saying recently that discreet branding is becoming the fashion. Rolls Royce chief executive Torsten Muller Oetvos isn't worried though. He says an SUV could be the firm's next move: (SOUNDBITE) (English)l TORSTEN MULLER OETVOS, SAYING: "We are looking into that. We have started some first ideas - sketching some first ideas. What can a Rolls Royce be in that segment? How would it look like? A Rolls Royce by nature is not sport, is not utility, but we are thinking about it. Let's wait and see" REPORTER TO CAMERA If it wants to expand much further, Rolls Royce may have to move into new segments. Bentley is pushing ahead with plans for an SUV. Meanwhile, Rolls Royce parent firm BMW is spending big on electric vehicles, leading many to wonder if its British unit might be part of those plans. Even a move upmarket could be an option. Italy's Lamborghini is among the carmakers to produce limited edition vehicles priced in the millions. For now, Muller-Oetvos says hybrids are more likely than pure electric vehicles: (SOUNDBITE) (English)l TORSTEN MULLER OETVOS, SAYING: "For more the direction is more into what I would call a plug-in hybrid, because you must understand that our customers mainly do not live in city centres, they live in the outskirts, and for that reason they need range" Recovery in the U.S. and other key markets means the outlook is bright for Britain's luxury carmakers. But with SUVs and alternative power plants on the agenda, the Rolls Royce and Bentley cars of tomorrow might not look the way you imagine.