Would you wait a year for a new Rolls-Royce built at Chichester? Multi-million pound expansion planned as plant reaches capacity

A multi-million pound investment in Rolls-Royce Motor Cars could see its manufacturing plant at Goodwood grow substantially in both size and excellence, the Chichester Observer can reveal today.

In 2021 the world’s most revered luxury car manufacturer achieved its highest annual sales in the marque’s 117 year history and it is now in the process of acquiring the land to the east of its current site in Westhampnett to make good its pledge to further invest in its workforce and the quality of its cars.

While any development on green fields has the potential to be controversial, the plans are good news for jobs and the surrounding villages.

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One of the biggest concerns of locals has been congestion caused by workers travelling to and from the current site – but new plans will look to address this, with the possibility of a new car park and traffic flow away from the village.

Rolls Royce is set to expand

Next year will be the 20th anniversary of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars at its global Home at Chichester. In the 1990s when its plans to move to Goodwood were first unveiled there was enormous criticism - but it has confounded many of those objectors by creating a centre that is ecologically sustainable and has even added an additional car park and very strict rules on its workforce to minimise the impact on its neighbours.

In an e-mail seen by the Observer from Chief Executive Torsten Müller-Ötvös to staff, he says the official planning process is about to get underway and they are aiming to lodge a formal planning application later this year.

The planning process is at a very early stage and many details are still to be resolved. The creation of some new jobs is likely but this is all about upgrading the current facilities, enhancing bespoke car building rather than dramatically producing more vehicles and helping to find creative solutions to any congestion concerns by locals.

The business community as well as the increasingly fragile economy should welcome this significant commitment.

Torsten Müller-Ötvös said in his letter to staff: “Many of you will be aware that we are nearing maximum capacity in our production areas here at the Home of Rolls-Royce. In addition, some of the facilities in our manufacturing plant are almost 20 years old and now require replacement.

“A cross-functional team has been working quietly in the background on a new development strategy for our plant. At the same time, we have been acquiring land to the east of our current campus for this purpose. This process is well advanced.”

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He acknowledged that any proposed extension ‘is likely to create media headlines.’

“This is a major project that requires sensitive management. We are working closely with all stakeholders including the Goodwood Estate, local authorities, and above all our surrounding local communities.”

It is understood the parish council was informed first earlier this week.

“Rolls-Royce has always sought to be a good corporate citizen and we value the deep links we have forged with our neighbours over two decades.

“I am personally committed to ensuring these relationships remain strong, honest, cordial, and respectful, whatever form our future plans eventually take. We are proud to call this beautiful corner of West Sussex our Home, and we will continue to fully embrace our responsibilities to the people and communities with whom we have the privilege to share it.

“Our future development plans have been made possible due to the ongoing success of our company.”

He said the collective hard work and dedication of the staff were at the forefront of their achievements.

Speaking to journalists last month with the announcement of their record breaking sales in 2021, Müller-Ötvös praised the unstinting dedication and skill of the Chichester workforce.

He pledged then: “We will continue to invest in our Goodwood manufacturing plant in readiness for electrification and as well in future talent with a record 37 new apprentices set to join us this summer.”

In response to a question from the Chichester Observer he made clear the company’s commitment to the city.

“For us, Chichester is the home of Rolls-Royce and will stay as the home of Rolls-Royce. It is the only place on earth where Rolls-Royces are built and that will be the case for many years from now. For us to be part of the Goodwood estate is extremely important. It is super attractive for our clients to come to and from a logistics perspective it is great - you could even fly your helicopter and land around the corner at the Goodwood Aerodrome.

Southampton is very close by for those visiting by private jet, so it is an ideal location

“There is no intention at all to change that.

“Yes we are investing here and we will further invest. We will go full electric by 2030 and that will mean additional investment in Goodwood.”

He said this was good news for local jobs. Although the company is demand driven and it depended very much on what kind of demand they were going to see in the coming years, there was every possibility of ramping up jobs at Goodwood.

“In 2021 we delivered 5,586 Rolls-Royces from our home at Goodwood to our clients in more than 50 countries worldwide. And this represented an increase of 49 per cent on last year’s total.

“This is truly a remarkable achievement. This overall figure includes all time record sales in most of our sales regions including Greater China, the Americas and Asia Pacific and in multiple countries across the world.

“This has resulted in our order books being filled well into the third quarter of 2022. If you order a Rolls-Royce today you will expect to take delivery of it about a year from now.

“Our factory here at the home of Rolls-Royce at Goodwood in West Sussex is currently running super smoothly at near maximum capacity.

“Our dedicated, professional team of over 2,000 people here at Goodwood and around the world coupled with a well-motivated network of dealer partners provide the skills and experienced hands, creative minds and unstinting dedication that are truly our greatest assets.

“Rolls-Royce is not, never has been and never will be a volume driven business. We are no longer simply an automotive manufacturer. We have transited into becoming a true luxury house focused on creating the very best and most precious luxury products in the world,” he said.