This past year could be charitably described as “mixed” for the automotive industry.
After what turned out to be a relatively brief blip due to the outbreak of COVID-19 the previous year, consumer demand returned with a vengeance in 2021.
But although factories were back up and running, another virus-related hiccup — a shortage of semiconductors — forced most of the world’s top automakers to cut production.
All told, vehicle sales increased last year, but still remained shy of their pre-pandemic numbers.
One very niche subset of the market, however, came out of 2021 stronger than ever.
CNN reports that several ultra-luxury auto brands — whose cars and SUVs sell, at minimum, for the price of your typical three-bedroom suburban home – saw record sales numbers last year.
British automakers Rolls-Royce and Bentley each posted new highs last year, while Italy’s Lamborghini is also poised to report strong sales numbers.
Company officials credited strong consumer demand and continued low interest rates, but those brands also operate on different scales than global automakers who reported less rosy calendar years.
Ultra-luxury vehicles are often tailored specifically to individual customers over weeks or months, and because the extremely expensive cars only appeal to thousands of potential buyers around the world, lineup changes can have a disproportionate effect on sales.
Still, CNN noted, models debuted by Rolls-Royce and Bentley in 2021 could be considered economical for those brands. A redesign of the Rolls-Royce Ghost started at more than $300,000, while Bentley saw sales of its Flying Spur, with an option for a less-expensive V8 engine, nearly double. Bentley also benefited from strong sales of a new hybrid SUV.
Rolls-Royce also reportedly claimed a record-high average vehicle price for 2021, although the Rolls-Royce Boat Tail skewed that number. Only three are being made, and they will cost a reported $25 million.