Rolls-Royce

Brand
BMW

Rolls-Royce Limited is a renowned British car-manufacturing and, later, aero-engine manufacturing company founded by Charles Stewart Rolls and Sir Frederick Henry Royce on 15 March 1906 as the result of a partnership formed in 1904. In addition to the company's reputation for superior engineering quality which has led to its epithet as the "best car in the world", Rolls-Royce Limited was known for manufacturing the high-powered "R" engines responsible for land and air speed records as well as successful performances in automobile racing.

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Rolls-Royce Limited is a renowned British car-manufacturing and, later, aero-engine manufacturing company founded by Charles Stewart Rolls and Sir Frederick Henry Royce on 15 March 1906 as the result of a partnership formed in 1904. In addition to the company's reputation for superior engineering quality which has led to its epithet as the "best car in the world", Rolls-Royce Limited was known for manufacturing the high-powered "R" engines responsible for land and air speed records as well as successful performances in automobile racing.

In 1971, Rolls-Royce was crippled by the costs of developing the advanced RB211 jet engine, resulting in the nationalisation of the company as Rolls-Royce (1971) Limited. In 1973, the car division was separated from the parent company as Rolls-Royce Motors. Rolls-Royce (1971) Limited continued as a nationalised company until it was privatised in 1987 as Rolls-Royce plc.

Current Rolls-Royce production is by BMW subsidiary Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. Current Bentley production is by Volkswagen's Bentley Motors.

Rolls-Royce Motors was created in 1973 during the de-merger of the Rolls-Royce car business from the nationalised Rolls-Royce Limited. Vickers acquired the company in 1980 and sold it to Volkswagen in 1998.

In 1998, Vickers plc decided to sell Rolls-Royce Motors. The leading contender seemed to be BMW, who already supplied internal combustion engines and other components for Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars. Their final offer of £340m was outbid by Volkswagen Group, who offered £430m.

As part of the deal, Volkswagen Group acquired the historic Crewe factory, plus the rights to the "Spirit of Ecstasy" mascot and the shape of the radiator grille. However, the Rolls-Royce brand name and logo were controlled by aero-engine maker Rolls-Royce plc, and not Rolls-Royce Motors. The aero-engine maker decided to license the Rolls-Royce name and logo to BMW and not to Volkswagen, largely because the aero-engine maker had recently shared joint business ventures with BMW. BMW paid £40m to license the Rolls-Royce name and "RR" logo, a deal that many commentators thought was a bargain for possibly the most valuable property in the deal. Volkswagen Group had the rights to the mascot and grille but lacked rights to the Rolls-Royce name in order to build the cars, likewise BMW had the name but lacked rights to the grille and mascot.

The situation was tilted in BMW's favour, as they could withdraw their engine supply with just 12 months notice, which was insufficient time for VW to re-engineer the Rolls-Royce cars to use VW's own engines. Volkswagen claimed that it only really wanted Bentley anyway as it was the higher volume brand, with Bentley models out-selling the equivalent Rolls Royce by around two to one.

After negotiations, BMW and Volkswagen Group arrived at a solution. From 1998 to 2002, BMW would continue to supply engines for the cars and would allow Volkswagen use of the Rolls-Royce name and logo. On 1 January 2003, only BMW would be able to name cars "Rolls-Royce", and Volkswagen Group's former Rolls-Royce/Bentley division would build only cars called "Bentley". The last Rolls Royce from the Crewe factory, the Corniche, ceased production in 2002, at which time the Crewe factory became Bentley Motors Limited, and Rolls-Royce production was relocated to a new entity in Goodwood, England known as Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.

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