BLACK BADGE

The dark side of Rolls-royce

Neue Luxury - - News - By Kyle For­tune

In re­sponse to a di­ver­si­fy­ing and in­creas­ingly de­mand­ing client base, Rolls-royce have cre­ated Black Badge: A new Rolls-royce that de­fies con­ven­tion with cus­tomised de­tails, dark fea­tures and the finest of Rolls-royce tech­nol­ogy and ad­vance­ments. “There are own­ers who want to take con­trol and don’t nec­es­sar­ily go along with the same view of tra­di­tion and con­ven­tion. With Black Badge we’re recog­nis­ing their tastes and their de­sires and de­liv­er­ing with the Rolls-royce sig­na­ture,” says Gavin Hart­ley, man­ager of be­spoke de­sign. The in­no­va­tion has come in re­sponse to mar­ket de­mands for a unique lux­ury au­to­mo­tive ex­pe­ri­ence that rep­re­sents the very best of Rolls-royce com­fort, tai­lored de­tail and en­gi­neer­ing tech­nol­ogy.

“It’s a very au­then­tic vi­sion of be­spoke, where we are look­ing at it from the ground up. En­gi­neer­ing is fun­da­men­tal to the Black Badge,” adds James War­ren, Rolls-royce spokesper­son. “I can­not em­pha­sise this enough, this is not about throw­ing away Rolls-royce com­fort. Our cus­tomers are wealthy, they can af­ford a Porsche or a Fer­rari for tracks. This is a Rolls-royce with a lit­tle more, tak­ing be­spoke to a dif­fer­ent level and into an en­gi­neer­ing arena,” says War­ren.

Black Badge is the re­sult of the unique re­la­tion­ships that Rolls-royce has de­vel­oped with its dis­cern­ing clients. While it en­joys an av­er­age of 4,000 sales an­nu­ally, the suc­cess of the brand stems from its com­mit­ment to de­vel­op­ing and main­tain­ing client re­la­tion­ships. Rolls-royce CEO Torsten Müller- Ötvös dines with clients ev­ery time he trav­els, invit­ing 10-15 own­ers to din­ner and dis­cussing their ideas and de­sires. Müller- Ötvös finds that meet­ing with his clients on a global scale al­lows him to ac­knowl­edge and re­spond to his clients dreams and de­sires. He draws on their ideas and sen­si­bil­i­ties by bring­ing the sug­ges­tions back to the home of Rolls-royce in Good­wood, Eng­land.

With own­ers typ­i­cally treat­ing their garages like wardrobes, the com­pany un­der­stands that dif­fer­ent ve­hi­cles cater to dif­fer­ent needs, oc­ca­sions, moods and tastes. A Rolls-royce isn’t a ne­ces­sity, but rather a per­sonal ex­pres­sion of lux­ury and de­sire.

Müller-ötvös high­lights that Ul­tra High Net Worth In­di­vid­u­als (UHNWI) are in­deed get­ting younger, with the av­er­age age of own­ers down from 56 to 45. “What we also see is some in­ter­est­ing peo­ple who are rule break­ers, mav­er­icks, those who want to make a bolder state­ment,” he adds. “Black Badge gives them that free­dom while also pro­vid­ing a dif­fer­ent driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. It is a car that’s more ag­ile, more on it, we call it the ‘al­ter ego of Rolls-royce’. We’re even brave enough to change our Spirit of Ec­stasy to a high gloss black vamp. Our clients love it.”

Rolls-royce cus­tomers are very di­verse and the Wraith and the Dawn in par­tic­u­lar ap­peal to a wider au­di­ence. “We in­stinc­tively know what they want and what trends they are fol­low­ing, it’s hugely ex­cit­ing and a big step for the mar­que. De­mand has been ex­tra­or­di­nary,” says War­ren. Black Badge chal­lenges how peo­ple in­ter­act with Rolls-royce, its au­then­tic­ity takes be­spoke be­yond mere aes­thet­ics. Rolls-royce’s story of re- es­tab­lish­ing it­self glob­ally with its all new Phan­tom in 2003 is well known. The Phan­tom de­fined lux­ury and be­spoke, be­com­ing an am­bas­sador for a rein­vig­o­rated Rolls-royce, with its hall­marks of sump­tu­ous ex­act­ing hand crafted lux­ury, un­der­pinned with cut­ting edge en­gi­neer­ing and de­sign. Not a rein­ven­tion of it­self, more an ac­cep­tance that to be rel­e­vant and com­pet­i­tive in to­day’s world, Rolls-royce needed to lead and in­no­vate. That is ex­actly what it did. It re­de­fined the lux­ury car mar­ket­place with a car, that de­spite its im­mi­nent re­place­ment, re­mains the very best of its type to this day. If chap­ter one was 2003 through to to­day, then Black Badge rep­re­sents an even more com­pelling chap­ter two. With this in mind, the fu­ture ap­pears lim­it­less. “We have a 112 year his­tory. We know our cus­tomers are in­ter­ested in the tra­di­tion and the au­then­tic­ity the mar­que rep­re­sents. How­ever, they’re also very mod­ern peo­ple and don’t want any­thing that’s ret­ro­spec­tive,” says Hart­ley. “We have to re­spect the brand by do­ing some­thing that is ap­pro­pri­ate to cus­tomers to­day, as well as in 10 or 20 years time.”

“Charles Rolls would have driven one of these,” adds War­ren, “he was the Elon Musk of his day.” Although Rolls-royce has tra­di­tion and pres­tige at its core, it has al­ways been com­mit­ted to its rep­u­ta­tion of push­ing the bound­aries.

Rolls-royce rep­re­sents seren­ity and com­fort, invit­ing us to take con­trol of our jour­ney, to feel, touch and en­joy the ex­pe­ri­ence. A Rolls-royce en­cour­ages driv­ers to re­turn to the heart and soul of au­to­mo­tive ex­cel­lence and Black Badge in­tends to take them on a jour­ney into the darker side of that soul. “When Roll­sRoyce goes out and does some­thing like this, it’s au­then­tic. The wheels for ex­am­ple, are air­craft grade alu­minium, which alone have taken two years to en­gi­neer. That wheel rep­re­sents some­one’s life for those two years,” says War­ren.

New ma­te­ri­als and fin­ishes de­fine the in­te­rior and ex­te­rior treat­ments, thereby ac­com­mo­dat­ing the idio­syn­cratic tastes of the Black Badge cus­tomer. The con­cept re­veals a darker, more as­sertive as­pect, whilst re­tain­ing all the lux­ury you’d ex­pect from a Rolls-royce. This new so­phis­ti­ca­tion and rein­ter­pre­ta­tion of lux­ury re­mains be­spoke, able to be in­di­vid­u­ally con­fig­ured through ma­te­rial choice or colour. The Black Badge mod­els are de­fined by their use of alu­minium threaded car­bon fi­bre composite sur­fac­ing, as well as the use of the ‘Un­lim­ited’ logo. This nods rev­er­en­tially to the Phan­tom Drop­head Water­speed of 2014, a car built to cel­e­brate the dar­ing of world speed record cham­pion Sir Mal­colm Camp­bell.

Camp­bell would cer­tainly ap­pre­ci­ate the en­gi­neer­ing changes that Roll­sRoyce have adapted. In­clud­ing gearshift strat­egy for more im­me­di­acy and the sharper sus­pen­sion and steer­ing. Rolls-royce have recog­nised that Black Badge clients de­sire in­tu­itive func­tions— be­cause there’s cer­tainly noth­ing more un­couth than a mere but­ton to press for in­creased speed and agility— which saw the in­stal­la­tion of the ‘In­tu­itive Throt­tle’, a func­tion al­low­ing the ve­hi­cle to change its de­liv­ery de­pend­ing on how vig­or­ously it is pushed and held. Black Badge isn’t about be­ing overt, how­ever the en­gi­neer­ing changes are in­deed sub­tle. There are new drive­shafts and dif­fer­ing op­er­at­ing strate­gies for the en­gine and gear­box con­trol sys­tems that all add alert­ness, but only when it recog­nises that the driver wants them. Black Badge cre­ates sharper re­sponses for more vis­ceral en­gage­ment, but re­tains the mar­ques ef­fort­less at­ti­tude. The Rolls-royce V12 en­gine power has al­ways been de­scribed as ‘am­ple’, but with Black Badge the ex­pe­ri­ence is am­pli­fied.

“Black Badge is an at­ti­tude to life, an as­pect of the Rolls-royce brand that ap­peals to those peo­ple who are elu­sive and de­fi­ant, the risk tak­ers and dis­rup­tors who break the rules and laugh in the face of con­ven­tion. They are driven by a rest­less spirit. They play hard and they change the world … With Black Badge we have cre­ated the most com­mand­ing pres­ence in the su­per lux­ury land­scape. It is a truly trans­for­ma­tive mo­ment for our great brand,” says Müller- Ötvös, ref­er­enc­ing Sir Mal­colm Camp­bell, Howard Hughes, Keith Moon, Yves Saint Lau­rent and Muham­mad Ali, as the icon­o­clasts who were drawn on for in­spi­ra­tion. Un­apolo­getic in their pur­suit for rein­ven­tion, dar­ing beauty and a life led on their own terms, the Rolls-royce Black Badge cer­tainly mes­merises. Charles Rolls would ap­prove.

Images cour­tesy of Rolls-royce.

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