Mainland falls to symbol of capitalism

ROLLS-ROYCE, the ultimate symbol of capitalism, is about to move into the last bastion of socialism, albeit with its own characteristics - China.

Ian Skeggs, Inchcape Motors' regional director for the Middle East and Asia and Rolls-Royce distributor, said: ''We expect to have a distributorship in China in the near future.'' So far this year Inchcape Motors had sold 30 of the luxury cars worth about $49 million on the mainland and the market was booming, according to Mr Skeggs.

Of the 30 cars sold so far this year three were the luxury stretch Rolls-Royce limousines priced at $2.95 million each, 25 Silver Spurs at $1.48 million each and two Silver Spirits at $1.35 million each.

Mr Skeggs believed that by the end of the year Rolls-Royce sales in China would have reached 40 units, not bad considering only 10 were sold last year.

This year Rolls-Royce will make 1,400 cars for worldwide distribution with 110, or roughly eight per cent of the production line, earmarked for Hong Kong and China.

''The Rolls-Royce is the ultimate status symbol. It is a statement more than anything else,'' Mr Skeggs said.''And the Chinese love them.'' He said there were three types of buyers in China: companies, individuals and hotels.

''They all have their reasons for buying them and they stand out in a crowd.'' Mr Skeggs said the market potential for Rolls-Royce in China was enormous but a lot would depend on the new economic restraints.

All cars sold to China are specially designed with modified suspension because of the poor road conditions, and the engines are modified to take China's heavily leaded petrol.

Inchcape Motors is in the process of setting up service centres and showrooms in Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou.