Rolls-Royce Cars is to set up a new £63m headquarters and assembly plant at Goodwood, West Sussex, in time to produce a brand-new model when the name passes to BMW in 2003.
BMW announced that the new site will employ 350 people in development, design, production, marketing and sales. It will have online access to the engineering resources of the BMW group as a whole. The plant will have a capacity of 1,000 vehicles a year, more than twice Rolls-Royce’s current output.
Final assembly and car interior production will be undertaken at Goodwood. Body panels and other components may be supplied from BMW’s other UK factory, the former Rover plant at Cowley in Oxford. Cowley, Derby and the M40 corridor were also candidates for the assembly plant.
Plans for a new Rolls-Royce model to be launched as soon as rights to the name transfer to BMW on 1 January 2003 are well advanced. A spokesman for Rolls-Royce said the car would have its own unique platform, not be a derivative of a BMW model, and a bespoke engine variant.
BMW chairman Professor Joachim Milberg said the announcement continued the `reorientation’ of BMW following the sale of Rover Cars and Land Rover. `Rolls-Royce will convincingly round off our portfolio at the top end,’ he added.
The Earl of March, who organises the annual Festival of Speed at the historic Goodwood motor racing circuit, is understood to have been instrumental in persuading BMW to choose the West Sussex location.
There is a historical link between Rolls-Royce and the location. Sir Henry Royce lived less than 10 miles away in West Wittering between 1917 and 1933, after ill-health forced him to seek a more congenial climate than Derby, where the company was then based.
Rolls-Royce cars are currently made under licence by Volkswagen at Crewe alongside Bentleys. VW acquired the Crewe works and Bentley name in 1998.
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