The new motor car is likely to be launched in 2007
Rolls-Royce Motor Cars to build new convertible on Phantom platform

SINGAPORE, Nov 10 (AFP) - Rolls-Royce Motor Cars announced here Wednesday that it will build a new convertible at its plant in Goodwood, England despite lackluster sales so far of its flagship model the Phantom.

The manufacturer, part of Germany's BMW Group, said at the Singapore Motor Show that the new model, codenamed the RR02, was inspired by its centenary experimental car the 100EX and will share the Phantom's platform and monstrous 6.75-litre V12 engine.

"The new motor car is likely to be launched in 2007," Colin Kelly, regional director of Rolls-Royce Motors for the Asia-Pacific region, told a news conference at the Singapore show, one of Southeast Asia's top auto fairs.

In a press statement, the company said convertibles have played a central part in the 100-year history of Rolls-Royce, which has long been associated with wealth and royalty.

The new model will use aluminum space-frame chassis technology similar to the Phantom's and will be slightly smaller than the 100EX, which was first displayed at the Geneva Motor Show in March.

The company statement said the decision to build the convertible "highlight's BMW Group's commitment to the long-term future of Rolls-Royce and to production in the UK."

The chief executive of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, Karl-Heinz Kalbfell, quit last month after just five months on the job.

The British car maker sold only 485 cars in the first nine months of this year, meaning the annual target for unit sales of around 1,000 is looking increasingly difficult to attain. It employs 500 people at Goodwood.

Luxury car manufacturers have lately been using Asian motor shows to make major announcements and product launches, underscoring the region's growing appetite for high-end automobiles.

Italian sports car maker Lamborghini also displayed its Murcielago Roadster on Wednesday at the Singapore show, which attracts wealthy buyers from across Southeast Asia.