So, I know that each Rolls-Royce, pretty much, is completely different from the other. Tell me about the customization and how important it is to your customers.
It’s absolutely essential, and it isn’t necessarily whether you want to do that customization yourself. It’s about what the brand means and what it means to people. We’ve never knowingly, as far as I'm aware, refused any commission from a customer. We’re not taste arbiters. We don’t say no, that color won’t go with that color. You’re the customer, you tell us what you want and we deliver it for you and exceed your expectations. It's a real challenge for us, but it also lets the customer challenge him or herself. It’s kind of like, "How high can I set the bar? What crazy thing can I ask these guys to do and they’re still going to do it?" They’re willing to test themselves as to how far they are willing to go and come back and test us. That works really well, because it keeps us edgy, it keeps us competitive, it keeps us thinking about the next guy that's going to come in and ask us to do something crazy and how we cant think about it before he asks us. That way, we can go, "Oooh, now that’s going to be real tough, do you want it tomorrow?" They might think it'll take months, but we’ve already thought of it, we’ve already got it there in our back pockets ready to go, which is why, at the moment, we are working with some exotic materials. We’ve already done some work with alligator, farmed alligator, which is used for its meat. We’ve done some stuff with ostrich. Again, farmed ostrich.
Instead of leather…
Yeah, it’s the skin of the animal. There’s a thing that says up to a certain size, you call it a skin and then above that, it’s a hide. So, it’s still a bull hide, or it’s a kangaroo hide. Ostrich skin, smaller, yeah? And they’re all turned into leather, the same process as to turn them into leather. What we are trying to do, therefore, is to make sure that we have the palette, smorgasbord if you will, of different materials. When the customer comes in and says he'd really like to do this. we say, "Okay, we can go with you on that. We’ve tried it out, here are the things that work, do you want us to come with you on that journey?" Some will, some won’t. And hopefully we get more that will than the ones that won’t.
That's the exciting thing, because you’re actually trying to think ahead of what our really demanding customers want. These customers are all-powerful, self-made men and women that really know what they want. They don’t need a car, they already have another 11. They’ll have the stuff for getting the kids to school and going to the business meeting, they have enough. It’s an extension of their personality. It's like when you put on a really good shirt, because you haven’t got a Rolls-Royce yet, you’ve got on a really good tailored shirt. It makes you feel fantastic, it’s almost part of you, you know? You feel stronger, fitter, and wiser. It does so many things to your ego that makes you feel much, much better than you actually are. And that’s what these motor cars are. They enable people to extend their personality and develop something that’s so much them, and that’s why they love it.
What’s an example of something you guys have run into and haven’t been able to do?
[Pauses] We struggle with whitewall tires. We did it, though, and we got it right in the end. We struggled a little bit with replacing the wood with carbon fiber weave, but we did that, too.
What difficulties were there with doing those things?
Oh, just making sure that when they were finished, they look Rolls-Royce. We can go out and buy a set of treads from Fred’s treads, or whatever it might be, and stick it on the car, and it will look ok, but it won’t look Rolls-Royce. We wanted to develop run-flats on the right rims and so on and so forth, because we’ve had customers in the past that don’t like running on our rims and go off and they’ll change them. They can do that, but, for us, that’s not what the car was for. We try to work with the customer and actually deliver him the rims, or tires, or whatever else they’re looking for. So, I can’t think of anything we haven't been able to do right now. There probably is, and I’m probably lying if I say that we’ve always done everything, but I can’t think of it. I will try and think of it, because it’s got to be accurate. If someone reads your article and they say, “Yeah, we’ve been able to do everything," I’m going to get it in the ear as well. They are going to say, “You lying so-and-so, that’s not true!”
So what is something you guys have been recently working on by trying to push the limit, what’s the next step?
I’d love to be able to tell you on when it’s photographed and in magazines, you’ll see it for yourself. We are working on some phenomenal stuff right now, both in terms of future motor vehicles, but also working with different materials and working with other companies that we haven’t worked with before and trying to challenge what we want from interiors.