Phantom lurking for miners

DAVID MCCOWEN
Last updated 12:34 16/11/2012

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A facelifted Rolls-Royce flagship could become more of a coal chariot than a Phantom for the opera as the brand targets cashed up customers in Western Australia and Queensland.

Australian sales haven't experienced the same growth as those overseas since the introduction of the smaller, more affordable Ghost in 2010; the Ghost was planned to more than double sales globally.

The brand sold just nine cars to Australians in 2009 and has shifted 15 so far this year, but Paul Harris, the Asia-Pacific regional director for Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, said there was more to come from resource-rich Queensland and Western Australia.

Harris said “we know there is potential in that market”, and that sales figures will dramatically increase “once we establish businesses in those areas”.

The brand launched an updated version of its flagship Phantom line in Melbourne this week.

Potential customers in Sydney will see the car on November 28, while a West Australian showroom is planned to open in mid-2013.

Described by the brand as the “pinnacle super-luxury car” and “a statement of success and a statement of achievement”, the Phantom Series II will cost customers between A$855,000 for the base sedan and A$1,075,000 for the drophead coupe.

But the majority of Australian owners add substantially more to that figure by customising cars through the Rolls-Royce bespoke programme, and are among the pickiest in Asia when tailoring their cars to personal preferences.

They can choose between 44,000 colours, but just one engine, a 6.75-litre V12 pumping out 338 of the smoothest kilowatts you'll find on the road.

Harris said a prototype electric Phantom was shown to buyers, who said its silent grace and torque-driven pace meshed well with the Rolls-Royce image, but that battery charging times offered by existing electrical infrastructure kept the V12 petrol motor in place.

The manufacturer has not yet offered a diesel option as Phantom drivers do not drive far in their machines.

Harris said the flagship saw “very low usage in terms of mileage”.

“It's averaging out to be 4000 to 6000 kilometres a year,” he said.

“We generally see that people use the Ghost more as an everyday car and use the Phantom more as a special occasion car.”

The revised Phantom has a front end facelift with LED lighting in place of round driving laps, an upgraded infotainment system and a sophisticated eight-speed automatic gearbox which helped cut fuel consumption by 10 per cent.

A long list of celebrities who owned the first generation Phantom was said to include dozens of millionaires from Denzel Washington and David Beckham to Sylvester Stallone and Snoop Dogg.

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- Sydney Morning Herald

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