While Volkswagen has been highly visible in its preparations for an independent Bentley marque, the silence from Munich with regard to Rolls-Royce has been deafening.
Control of the Rolls-Royce brand transfers from VW to BMW in January 2003.
Karl-Heinz Kalbfell, director of BMW's Project Rolls-Royce and BMW Group director of product and brand strategy, said it is not appropriate for BMW to give away too many of its plans for Rolls-Royce.
'The Rolls-Royce business belongs to VW at the moment and we are not allowed to announce things under our common understanding,' he said.
But BMW has made a few things clear. The new Rolls-Royce will be built in the UK, probably in the industrial English midlands. Designers have been busy in a newly created London design studio drawing up versions of what the new car will look like, said Kalbfell, who is spending about half his time on the Rolls-Royce project.
Rolls-Royce currently accounts for only 20 percent of the small volume turned out by the factory in Crewe, England. Kalbfell acknowledges Rolls-Royce needs to sell more cars to become a viable business proposition.
'It is clear the current volume is definitely not enough,' he said. 'But looking back a little to the early 1980s, Bentley was 20 percent and Rolls-Royce was 80 percent.'
Before Rolls-Royce can organize its dealer network, it must decide where to make the new car. The company has said it is inspecting at least four UK sites but won't say where.
Speculation has centered on Birmingham, Derby, and sites near Oxford and Crewe. Hams Hall, the site of the yet-to-be-opened BMW-Rover engine plant, has also been mentioned.
'I wish for their benefit and ours' BMW would do more to communicate its plans for Rolls-Royce, said Adrian Hallmark, worldwide marketing chief for Rolls-Royce and Bentley. 'I think they could help us and their dealers. Parrying tactics are not a clear way forward. I'm sure the dealers are confused as well.'
While VW has been busy rebuilding the Bentley dealer network, BMW has not said how it will create a new Rolls-Royce dealer network.
BMW has set itself a daunting task, according to Charlie Moss, analyst for JD Power-LMC in Oxford, England.
'It's exactly the same as setting up a completely new car company,' he said. And with all the troubles it has had with Rover, BMW hardly needs the added challenge of reinventing Rolls-Royce, he said. 'What looked like incredibly clever three years ago probably looks like a poisoned chalice - 40 million (A63.4 million) was dirt cheap, assuming everything else was wonderful in your life.'
But Kalbfell said BMW has unshakeable confidence it can do the job and deliver a new Rolls-Royce.
'This will be a different game when we start in 2003. I can state as member of BMW group that we will do this, that we are working very hard, and that we are in our internal schedule - and we know how to build cars.'