Business Monday

Gateway City/Who’s Here: Rolls-Royce dealership in Miami is one of the leaders in U.S. sales

Joe Wierda, general manager for Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Southern Region, with several models of the luxury car in the showroom at the dealership in Edgewater Nov. 5, 2015.
Joe Wierda, general manager for Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Southern Region, with several models of the luxury car in the showroom at the dealership in Edgewater Nov. 5, 2015. FOR THE MIAMI HERALD

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars loves Miami.

The U.K.-based company that designs, manufactures and distributes the iconic luxury brand has 40 dealerships in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, and Miami is one of its top sellers.

“Rolls-Royce sold over 4,000 cars worldwide last year, the highest figure in the company’s history,” said Joseph Wierda, general manager of the southern region of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars NA, LLC, who oversees 10 Rolls-Royce dealerships — six in Florida, three in Texas and one in Tennessee.

“North America accounts for about 30 percent of global sales, and the U.S. is the biggest individual market. In the U.S., our biggest markets are Southern California and South Florida.

“The top two cities for sales are Beverly Hills and Miami,” said Wierda, whose cars can sell for as much as $600,000 — or more.

The company does not give out individual dealer sales figures, but Beverly Hills was No. 1 and the Braman Miami Rolls-Royce dealership was No. 2, he said.

Braman also has the Rolls-Royce franchise in West Palm Beach, while the Holman group owns Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Fort Lauderdale.

For buyers who can’t decide on a particular brand, Braman Miami — part of Braman Enterprises — also sells Bugattis, Bentleys, Cadillacs, BMWs, MINIs, Hyundais and KIAs at its expansive Biscayne Boulevard dealership.

Rolls-Royce dealers also lease these luxury vehicles and sell used models.

On a recent evening, Braman Miami’s Rolls-Royce dealership was packed with Rollers, as the Brits call them. The luxury car maker was presenting its new Dawn convertible (the company calls convertibles dropheads) to the public in Miami, and the dealership was packed with visitors.

The Dawn convertible will have a base price of about $300,000 and will reach about $400,000 with options customers usually add from a huge range of paint colors, interior fabrics and other materials.

The sleek, white convertible on view was a prototype, one of only two in North America, Wierda said, and commercial production of the new model will begin in January of 2016. Rolls-Royce is taking orders in advance and projected 2016 production is almost sold out.

The Dawn has an enormous 12-cylinder, 563-horsepower engine, can seat four and do 0-60 mph in 4.9 seconds.

Aside from public showings, the company also holds special viewings of the Dawn for wealthy potential buyers in private venues.

Why is Miami such a hot market for Rolls-Royce? Aside from a year-round community of wealthy individuals in the Miami area, the city also attracts current Rolls-Royce owners and potential buyers from around the world, Wierda said. The Braman dealership caters to many customers from South America, who often buy and drive their cars here, rather than ship them home. Miami’s warm weather also attracts potential buyers from the northern U.S. during their winter months, and from southern South America, which has winter when we are going through the summer. “This gives us a very steady flow of customers year-round,” the Rolls-Royce executive said.

Wierda, who is from Fort Myers, received his degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Florida and began working in the auto industry with Ford and later BMW. At BMW, he worked in sales and then moved to sales at Rolls-Royce. He took over as the southern region general manager in 2012 and travels frequently, spending much of his time at the Miami dealership. He and his family live in Fort Myers.

The founders of Rolls-Royce — Charles Rolls and Henry Royce — built the first cars bearing their name in England in 1904 and set up their company there in 1906. Over the years, Rolls-Royce also began manufacturing airplane engines and went though a series of changes, including nationalization and the separation of the car manufacturing and airplane engine businesses. The current car manufacturer, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars — was set up in 2003. After a battle between Volkswagen and BMW, Rolls-Royce became part of the BMW Group, which also makes and sells MINIs. Last year, BMW — based in Munich, Germany — had worldwide revenues of more than $86 billion, using a current exchange rate for the euro.

Who are typical Rolls-Royce customers in Miami? “You can’t profile a typical buyer,” Wierda said. “You get people who look like they come from every walk of life. Our customers can be wealthy businesspeople, movie and music stars, and young professionals from high-tech companies.”

The average age of Rolls-Royce owners used to be in the mid-40s and is moving down to the lower 40s, he said. Despite competition from other luxury brands like Bentley and Bugatti, Rolls-Royce sales have been growing briskly and the company is investing in its manufacturing and technology centers in England.

To attract younger customers, Rolls-Royce offers models — like the Dawn — that are powerful, fast and sexy, as well as the more staid, traditional cars. The Miami dealership recently sold some “traditional” Rolls-Royces that were painted orange, green and purple.

“We are constantly updating our cars and broadening our options palette,” Wierda said.

“And Rolls-Royce offers its customers the most exciting motoring experience there is.”

The writer can be reached at

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Business: Rolls-Royce designs and manufactures its iconic ultra-luxury vehicles in England and distributes them worldwide. The company has 40 dealerships in U.S., Canada and Mexico, including six in Florida: Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Naples, Orlando and Tampa Bay. The top selling Rolls-Royce dealerships in the U.S. are in Beverly Hills (No. 1) and the Braman franchise in Miami (No.2). Rolls-Royce is part of the BMW Group, based in Munich, Germany. Aside from BMW and Rolls-Royce, the company also manufactures and distributes MINI vehicles. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars is entirely separate from Rolls-Royce Holdings plc, which manufactures aircraft engines and other power systems used on land, sea and in the aerospace industry.

Corporate headquarters and manufacturing plant: Goodwood, England.

Regional manager: Joseph M. Wierda, general manager of the Rolls-Royce southern region.

Miami dealership: 2060 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. (Part of the Braman group of auto dealerships).

Founded: The first Rolls-Royce was made in 1904 and the original Rolls-Royce company was founded in England in 1906. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars was set up in 2003.

Sales: In 2014, Rolls-Royce sold more than 4,000 vehicles internationally, the highest level in the company’s history.

Employees: BMW Group has more than 121,000 employees worldwide. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars has about 1,500 employees at its manufacturing plant, plus regional representatives, product, technical and marketing specialists in international markets.

Ownership: The BMW Group is traded on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange (Symbol: BMW).


Source: Rolls-Royce, BMW