Rolls-Royce yesterday conceded that sales of its luxury cars have been hit by a fall in demand in China.
The chief executive Torsten Mueller-Oetvoes, talking to the BBC World Service’s World Business Report, said the turnaround in the market had been unexpectedly fast.
“We have been surprised by the speed of development in the Chinese market in a completely different direction,” he said.
Chinese buyers have been affected by slower growth, a stock market slump and a crack down on corruption.
He was speaking on the day the luxury car maker launched Dawn, its new £250,000, 155 mph convertible, which the company has described as “the sexiest Rolls-Royce ever built”.
Mueller-Oetvoes said: “The whole anti-corruption campaign… is very much around investigating where your money is from, to whom you are related and so on and so forth.
“That, of course, scares people who are quite affluent, and no one wants to be visible currently in that kind of environment and people are shying away from… obvious luxury goods, and that is not only true of cars but for jewellery and for precious watches.”
However, he added: “I am not in any way scared about that. We may see a dent in our volume line due to China, but that is a partial dent.
“And in particular with the new car that we will launch next year, the Rolls-Royce Thorn, I am very optimistic.”