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Rolls-Royce rides ongoing luxury demand to sales record in 2022

A hand made Rolls-Royce described as 'the most refined picnic facility on earth' is unveiled at the company’s factory in Goodwood

By Nick Carey

LONDON (Reuters) - Rolls-Royce on Monday reported record sales last year despite an average price tag of around $534,000 for its luxury cars and a drop in Chinese demand, with orders stretching into 2023.

The British carmaker, which began as Rolls-Royce in Manchester, England nearly 120 years ago and is now owned by Germany's BMW, said that it sold 6,021 cars in 2022, up from 5,586 in 2021, which was also a record year.

Rolls-Royce's sales were led by the Americas, with the U.S. remaining its top market with around 35% of sales. In China, the carmaker's second-largest market, coronavirus-related lockdowns led to a "single-digit drop" in sales.

But CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös said in an online presentation that this decrease was offset by growth in other markets.

"Our order book stretches far into 2023 for all models," Müller-Ötvös said. "We haven't seen any slowdown in orders."

Rolls-Royce said that pre-orders for its fully-electric Spectre, due to go on sale at the end of 2023, had exceeded all of its expectations.

The CEO told reporters that the growth anticipated for 2023 came despite Rolls-Royce halting sales in Russia, which typically accounted for 250 to 300 units per year, in the wake of its invasion of Ukraine last February.

Müller-Ötvös said the luxury brand's bespoke, customised approach had lead to "ever more imaginative, personal and technically demanding" orders from customers.

($1 = 0.9370 euros)

(Reporting by Nick Carey; Editing by Alexander Smith)