U.S. may dethrone China as Rolls-Royce’s largest market in 2012, CEO says image

BMW-owned Rolls-Royce Motor Cars announced its U.S. sales could overtake China in 2012, as the luxury carmaker aims for record global revenue this year.

Rolls-Royce sold more than 1,000 cars in China last year, which overtook the U.S. for the first time in the brand’s history. This year however, RR CEO Torsten Muller-Otvos said he is confident sales in North America will rebound, adding he would not be surprised if sales in the U.S. surpassed those from China in 2012.

“I think the American market will definitely pick up. It depends on the economy and the U.S. market. There are encouraging signals we are seeing,” Muller-Otvos told Reuters. Earlier this week, Rolls-Royce reported record sales of 3,538 cars for 2011, up 31 percent from the previous year.

Luxury car makers like Bentley, Porsche and Aston Martin have all posted massive sales due to solid growth in regions such as Asia-Pacific. Muller-Otvos said Rolls-Royce’s main competitors aren’t other high-end automakers but luxury purchases such as helicopters and yachts. “Our competitors are not other brands. It is jewelry for the wife, a new family home in the Swiss alps, a new motor yacht,” the CEO said.