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Rolls-Royce back in India with Phantom

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The Rolls Royce Phantom luxury sedan which was launched in Mumbai on Friday. — Shashi Ashiwal

Mumbai, April 8

ROLLS-ROYCE Motor Cars today marked its return to India after a gap of 50 years, launching its Phantom super luxury sedan in the city.

The car is expected to cost Rs 3.5 - 4 crore and the company hopes to sell 7-8 units a year through its dealer, Navnit Motors. "The Rolls-Royce Phantom has emerged as the clear market leader in its class. India had been the ultimate destination of many of the earlier Rolls-Royce cars, including the Silver Ghost and the Phantom," Mr Colin Kelly, Regional Director (Asia Pacific), Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Ltd, said.

According to Mr Stefan Conrady, Regional Marketing & Communications Manager for the company, until 1955 around 730 Rolls-Royce cars had been sold to Indian customers. "We are delighted to bring the Phantom to a country which has a deep appreciation of the unparalleled excellence which the Rolls-Royce name stands for," Mr Kelly said.

The high profile nature of super luxury car sales in India had arguably come under a cloud after the first customer of the most expensive production car became for a while a fugitive from law, wanted by CBI and Interpol. Asked if Rolls-Royce would screen its customers to make sure that none of the buyers would be counter productive to the brand's image, Mr Conrady said, the manufacturer's responsibility was restricted to designing and engineering its cars to the best possible quality.

Mr Kelly said, the odd questionable customer had to be seen as part of the inherent risk in the super luxury car business.

The current Phantom is the product of work on a new platform commenced in 1998 after the Rolls-Royce brand moved into the BMW fold. The car made its debut in January 2003 and recently the company also introduced a longer wheel base version, which Indian customers can order if they so wish.

A convertible model on the same platform is expected in 2007. At present, Rolls-Royce manufactures close to 800 cars a year.

Depending on the level of customisation sought, there is a waiting period for the Phantom, of up to six months. Mr Kelly said two potential customers have emerged so far for the car in India, both from the western region. The first of them, Mr Yohan Poonawala, is scheduled to get his car at a private function on Saturday.

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