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Rolls plans new models

Rolls-Royce have confirmed they are looking at spin-offs from the basic Ghost, but will not be drawn on timing.

Three newcomers are under development to fill the Ghost family, which has just been created as a smaller and more-affordable companion to the flagship Phantom. Rolls-Royce already has four Phantom models - the standard and long- wheelbase limousines, as well as a coupe and convertible - and the Ghost sedan is expected to become the base for new coupe and droptop cars.

"We are definitely considering a family of cars based on the Ghost. But we cannot current confirm derivatives or dates," says Hanno Kirner, a director of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.

The arrival of the Ghost opens new possibilities but the work will not be as straightforward as the Phantom, which has a unique aluminium chassis structure which allows easy changes to the bodywork. The Ghost has a conventional steel monocoque body which could be more costly and complicated to tweak, although Kirner says BMW Group - which owns Rolls-Royce - has plenty of experience in creating multiple models from a single starting point.

"Yes, it's remarkably easy to change an aluminium platform, but steel monocoques are standard fare in the car business. Even with the BMW 3 Series you have a coupe, a convertible a touring wagon. It's a different technical challenge, but not so hard."

Kirner admits R-R is already looking at spin-offs from the basic Ghost but will not be drawn on timing.

"I think it will probably not take as long as three years until we see a different derivative. But we need to look at the lifecycle. And we don't need derivatives or evolutions as fast. We don't think we should be quite as hectic as that."

The Rolls-Royce Phantom could run until 2016 before it is replaced. The British brand's flagship has a unique style and position which the company believes is strong enough to survive with only minor changes despite a global obsession with new models.

"The Phantom was launched in 2003. Yet the car still looks reasonably fresh," says Hanno Kirner. He admits there will be a phantom facelift but says it is not imminent, or needed. "We are considering all options. For us, Phantom is more of an evolutionary product. The basics of Phantom are still extremely modern, still quite state-of-the-art. We would probably refine Phantom, rather than revolutionise it."