Rolls-Royce CEO thinks Covid deaths were good for business
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Earlier this week, we reported that Rolls-Royce saw record sales in 2021, selling more vehicles last year than any other year in it's 117 year history.
Now, it's been revealed that the Rolls-Royce CEO, Torsten Müller-Otvös, believes that the growing number of deaths caused by the global Covid-19 pandemic, is responsible for the spike in sales, and ultimately is good for business.
In 2021, Rolls-Royce saw 5,586 vehicles sold worldwide. The company didn't reveal too many specific details, but said the most popular models were the Cullinan and the new generation Ghost. There were all-time record sales in most regions around the world including major markets in China, North America, and Asia-Pacific, with orders for new vehicles extending into the third quarter of 2022.
“Quite a lot of people witnessed people in their community dying from Covid, that makes them think life can be short, and you’d better live now than postpone it to a later date,” he told The Financial Times. “That also has helped [Rolls-Royce sales] quite massively.”
Müller-Otvös is essentially claiming that his company of luxury cars profited from the mass death and tragedy that this pandemic has caused. His comments are indeed morbid and insensitive, but they're not inaccurate.
Historically, horrible world events, like pandemics, have resulted in a surge of spending. Following the 1918 influenza pandemic which killed 50 million people and infected 500 million, was a cultural and economic boom in Europe and the United States which lasted a decade.
"After periods of massive non-financial disruption such as wars and pandemics, GDP does bounce back," The Economist wrote in April. "Today, even as COVID-19 rages across poorer countries, the rich world is on the verge of a post-pandemic boom."
So, it shouldn't come as a surprise that spending habits are going a bit hectic at the moment. And for a luxury car brand, who relies on the clientele who already has a large disposable income, it's even less surprising that they should profit.
Rolls-Royce isn't the only luxury car brand who saw record sales in 2021. BMW, Porsche, Lotus, and Lamborghini also saw record sales last year.
The article from The Economist continued though, explaining that while the rich may have it good right now, this may not always be the case.
"... as anyone who has read Les Misérables knows, the pandemic also contributed to another sort of revolution," The Economist story went on. "The city’s poor, hit hardest by the disease, fulminated against the rich, who had fled to their country homes to avoid contagion. France saw political instability for years afterwards."
A senior economic adviser at HSBC, Stephen King, said that while the Roaring 20s worked out well for the rich, "many rural citizens were left behind. Meanwhile, an inexperienced Federal Reserve struggled to cope with a combination of low inflation and surging stock prices. When it all came crashing down, depression followed."
So, are the comments from Müller-Otvös accurate? Perhaps. But he should probably think a little bit harder before he speaks.