Rolls Royce and Porsche's gravity-defying sales numbers show the rich aren't cutting back on luxury spending just yet

  • A year of rising prices has led some people to reconsider or delay big-ticket purchases.

  • Ultra-wealthy shoppers meanwhile have kept up spending, driving record sales for Rolls Royce and Porsche.

  • Each automaker posted best-ever years in 2022, and say they're still optimistic heading into 2023.

New, and especially used, auto prices were some of the biggest factors behind rising inflation last year, and inflation has duly begun to cool as those figures have come back to earth.

But the 2022 sales of brands like Rolls Royce and Porsche appear to defy this financial gravity.

For Rolls Royce, a record 6,021 cars were sold last year, besting 2021 by 8 percent and setting an all-time record for the 118-year-old British brand, the company said last week.

Not only were more cars sold, but they sold for more money: "Our clients are now happy to pay around half a million Euros for their unique motor car," CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös said in a statement.

Rolls Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös
Rolls Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös.Rolls Royce

Meanwhile in Germany, Porsche reported a similar feat, with sales of nearly 310,000 vehicles worldwide in 2022 — a 3% increase from the year before.

"We have succeeded in fulfilling the dream of owning a Porsche for more customers than ever before," said Detlev von Platen, Porsche's executive board member for sales and marketing.

Both brands acknowledged that the future is indeed uncertain, but it's hard to envision a realistic downside for them.

Porsche's 2023 911 Carrera, Taycan, Macan, 718 Cayman, Cayenne, and Panamera under a bridge
Porsche's 2023 911 Carrera, Taycan, Macan, 718 Cayman, Cayenne, and Panamera.Porsche

After all, these companies are well aware that the wealthiest 2 percent of consumers account for 40 percent of global luxury spending, and analysts say they're still chugging along even as "aspirational" buyers pare back, according to the Financial Times.

There seems to be no shortage of investor confidence in Porsche following its spinoff from Volkswagen at a $72 billion valuation, and the sports car company indicated it has big plans for its 75th anniversary year.

Porsche 2022 Taycan GTS and Taycan GTS Sport Turismo
Porsche 2022 Taycan GTS and Taycan GTS Sport Turismo.Porsche

Looking forward to 2023, Rolls Royce told Bloomberg that preorders for its all-electric Spectre are "exceeding our highest expectations," and commissions for its one-of-a-kind Bespoke workshop are getting ever more complicated and expensive.

Elsewhere in the luxury marketplace, watchmaker Rolex decided it wanted a slice of the action in the resale market and announced its own pre-owned purchasing program.

The Swiss brand is extremely careful about raising retail prices for its products, which has left the company on the sidelines as several of its watches skyrocket in value the moment they leave the store.

And the Financial Times reports that even with 20 percent hikes over the past two years for handbags from Chanel and Louis Vuitton, both companies are expected to step prices up further still in the coming year.

All of that points to a very different story for the ultra-wealthy buyers of these goods.

While most average households are balancing the math of higher-priced eggs against shifting energy bills, an exclusive few are busy making sure the Rolls Royce they buy is one-of-a-kind.

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