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Rolls-Royce aims for younger audience with new Black Badge range

Rolls-Royce Black Badge limited edition

The crustiest brand in world motoring, Rolls-Royce, is planning a brighter and bolder future selling cars with youth appeal.

It's aiming to tap into trillions of inherited dollars as Baby Boomers pass their wealth to their children in countries led by the US and China,

Rolls has just launched Black Badge limited editions of the Phantom and Wraith, with a blacked-out Spirit of Ecstasy on the bonnet, and has bigger plans for the future.

"Definitely we're on a charge to modernise the brand," says global sales and marketing director Fintan Knight.

"Risk taking and invention are just as current today as they were 112 years ago at the foundation of the brand.

"For the Wraith, 70 per cent of clients are new to the brand. This is an absolutely consistent picture with the way wealth is developing.

"The millennial generation is more expressive. It's the social nature of doing business. Females also play a much stronger role."

Knight‘s roadshow through Asia aims to spread the new message and he says there is solid demand in Australia for Black Badge cars.

You cannot put gadgets in a Rolls-Royce. It cannot be a technical experiment in front of the customer

He also confirms the end of the Phantom-based coupe and drophead, most likely late next year, when the completely new Phantom VIII makes its debut.

"There is no need for us to continue those cars. The Wraith and Dawn (the coupe and convertible based on the slightly smaller Ghost limousine) are both pinnacle cars and the demand for those cars is much more substantial than the Phantom drophead and coupe.

"There is no need for one model to replace another. We are expanding, not contracting."

Despite the youth push, Knight says there is no place for silliness in a Rolls-Royce.

"You cannot put gadgets in a Rolls-Royce. It cannot be a technical experiment in front of the customer," he says.

The updated production plan, already in place, includes Rolls-Royce's first SUV due in 2018. Codenamed project Cullinan, it will be built on the fresh aluminium architecture developed for Phantom VIII.

Knight says the Black Badge cars are more than just window dressing.

We don't reach an end point

"This Black Badge is not a race car or a sports car but it is a very different alter ego of the Rolls-Royce brand," he says.

"There is more torque, more power, revised suspension. It's very much reminiscent of the (original business) model, which is risk taking."

The company's future, he predicts, will reflect in some ways the philosophy of founder Charles Rolls.

"The brand Rolls-Royce actually is a very modern narrative. But it has become a little dusty. Market research says we have made a major step from 2013 to 2015 but this is a continuous process. We don't reach an end point."