Rollys-Royce sales drive off a cliff amid Middle East uncertainties

The luxury car maker Rolls-Royce said first-quarter profits plummeted, hurt by a number of factors, including political and economic uncertainties, most notably in the Middle East.

Preparations for the market launch of the Dawn also had an impact, the BMW-owned car maker said.

In total, 551 vehicles were handed over to customers during the first quarter against 781 in the same period last year, a fall of 29.4 per cent, Rolls-Royce said.

Worldwide sales of the Rolls-Royce Ghost fell 33.5 per cent to 206 cars in the first quarter. The Rolls-Royce Wraith (including the Dawn) clocked up 286 sales as opposed to 383 last year, a fall of 25.3 per cent.

The company said order intake for the new Rolls-Royce Dawn, which made its debut last month, “is good and is expected to boost sales volume figures over the remainder of the year”.

The figures were in stark contrast to its German parent, which in the period from January to March sold a total 557,605 vehicles worldwide, a record for the first quarter, BMW said.

That translated into revenues of €20.85 billion (Dh88.77bn), or a drop of 0.3 per cent from the year-earlier figure, largely due to “unfavourable currency factors, such as the value of the British pound and the Chinese renminbi against the euro”, the car maker said.

Underlying, or operating, profit fell by 2.5 per cent to €2.46bn, but bottom-line net profit rose by 8.2 per cent to €1.64bn, “also marking a new first-quarter record”, BMW said.

“Our first-quarter performance is further proof of our ability to generate positive earnings with our core business, despite a volatile environment,” said the chief executive Harald Krueger.

Sales to Asia were up strongly, rising by 9.9 per cent to 183,204, with sales in China up 10.5 per cent.

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