Tony Gott, newly appointed chief executive at Rolls-Royce and Bentley Motor Cars Ltd., hinted his company may play a role in a larger luxury car strategy of parent company Volkswagen AG.
The Rolls-Royce and Bentley factory at Crewe, England, is likely to be a 'center of competence' within the VW Group for developing interiors for luxury cars, said Gott.
As plans are developing, Rolls-Royce and Bentley would concentrate on interiors, particularly wood and leather trim, while VW in Wolfsburg would be the center for development of powertrains and Audi in Ingolstadt for bodies and space frames, Gott said.
Rolls-Royce and Bentley workers perform certain skills found nowhere else in the auto industry. The wood department buys large pieces of California walnut, redwood, poplar and other woods. The workers match them perfectly so a piece on the right door panel matches perfectly that on the left. Each Rolls-Royce contains at least 32 pieces of wood and each Bentley at least 30.
A single leather steering wheel takes at least eight hours to sew by hand (above). A sports wheel for a Bentley Mulliner Park Ward takes up to 14 hours and contains 10 pieces of Connolly leather. Each vehicle requires 16 Connolly hides.
The factory makes both Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars now. Only the future of Bentley is guaranteed at Crewe. BMW, which won the Rolls-Royce brand in a complicated series off legal maneuvers, has yet to announce where that marque will be made.