Crown Prince Naruhito is Ascending to the Japanese Throne, But His Prized Display Vehicle Won’t Be a Rolls-Royce
Crown Prince Naruhito has transitioned to Emperor Naruhito of Japan as of May 1, 2019, and now that he’s taken the throne it’s time for him to choose a car for his ceremonial parade. Up until now, this has been a Rolls-Royce but, with new leadership comes new desires, and because of this, Rolls-Royce is out and, while you might not believe it, Toyota is in. That’s right; it has been officially confirmed via a press release directly from the Japanese Government that Emperor Naruhito’s new car is, in fact, a Toyota. And, it’s one that we don’t have in the States – it’s a Toyota Century. So what can lead a new Emperor to ditch the luxury that comes with any Rolls-Royce for a Toyota? Well, only the best from Japan’s best automaker – that’s what. It’s not just any Toyota Century that can’t be had in the United States – it’s a one-off Century convertible, and it’s the only one in the world.
Automakers Celebrate Lifting Of Ban On Women Drivers In Saudi Arabia
We knew it was coming sooner than later. Now that the women of Saudi Arabia are all set to be allowed to drive, automakers from all over the world have been quick to react to the ground-breaking news, celebrating the development on the social media with hashtags #SaudiWomenMove and #SaudiWomenCanDrive.
Ford, Volkswagen, and Nissan were the first automakers to post their congratulations and promote themselves to the women of Saudi Arabia, getting the word out early that they’re ready to welcome women drivers into the driver’s seat for the first time in the history of the Middle Eastern country. The quick response to the living of the driving ban was a smart move, particularly because of the business potential that it offers for a lot of these companies. Data gathered by The Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association revealed that Saudi Arabia is the largest importer of vehicles and parts in the entire Middle East region. At the same time, data from LMC Automotive pointed to Saudi Arabia as the 21st biggest automotive market in the world, a figure that could go up with the potential of having more customers by virtue of lifting the ban. In total, Merrill Lynch estimates that as many as nine million potential new drivers could be in the hunt for new cars in Saudi Arabia, including 2.7 million resident non-Saudi women. With all these numbers being thrown out, it’s no wonder that companies like Ford, Volkswagen, and Nissan were quick to roll out the carpet for Saudi women. It’s going to be great for business!
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Dubai Takes Delivery Of Tesla Model S And Model X Taxis
Just in case Dubai’s propensity for excess isn’t clear enough already, the Middle Eastern country is doing a bang-up job of living up to that reputation. No, nobody bought a new one-off supercar. Affluent folks from that area have more than enough of those cars in their garages as it is. There is a purchase to report though, and it comes by way of Dubai’s main taxi company, the Dubai Taxi Corporation, which has taken delivery of 50 Tesla Model S and Model X vehicles, all of which are set to be used as part of a massive autonomous taxi fleet in the future.
Yes, whereas I’m stuck with Toyota Corolla taxis from where I’m from, Dubai has Model S and Model X taxis that are waiting to be served up to the public. All in all, 200 Model S and Model X units are headed to the oil-rich nation where they will arrive in batches – 50 this year, 75 in 2018, and 75 in 2019. All 200 models are expected to spearhead the government’s plan to turn the country into a leader in the self-driving taxi space, a goal that’s becoming more and more within reach considering how aggressively the country’s leaders are pushing for it.
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2017 Rolls-Royce Ghost Inspired by Ancient Trading Routes
By now, you’ve probably seen your fair share of one-off, exclusive Rolls-Royce models the automaker’s Bespoke personalization division created for Rolls-Royce Abu Dhabi as part of the dealership’s Wisdom Limited Collection. Well, we’re down to the last one-off exclusive and it’s a good one. It’s called the "Rolls-Royce Ghost Inspired by Ancient Trading Routes" and by far it’s the most colorful of all the one-off Rolls-Royce models that make up the collection.
Like most of its contemporaries in the Wisdom Limited Collection, the Rolls-Royce Ghost Inspired by Ancient Trading Routes is largely defined by the use of exclusive colors in its body and interior. In this case, Rolls-Royce Bespoke went for a colorful approach to signify the region’s rich trading history with other countries, most notably India and China, and the routes that these traders took to get their products in and out of their respective regions. It’s a fitting tribute to a significant part of Abu Dhabi’s history that helped shape the country into the booming urban jungle that it has become.
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2017 Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe Inspired by Qasr-Al Hosn
The relationship between British luxury car brand Rolls-Royce and a Middle Eastern country like Abu Dhabi is ever-evolving. We already know that Abu Dhabi is one of the automaker’s biggest markets, third only to the U.S. and China. That hasn’t changed despite stagnating sales in the region, which Rolls-Royce blamed on economic and political uncertainty. Even if there is a relative downturn in business in Abu Dhabi, it’s still a significant market for the company as properly shown by Rolls-Royce Bespoke’s Wisdom Limited Collection for Rolls-Royce Abu Dhabi.
We’ve gone through a number of one-off models that make up this seven-model collection. Now we’re turning our attention towards the "Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe Inspired by Qasr-Al Hosn." Like the rest of the Rolls models that make up this collection, the Phantom Coupe Inspired by Qasr-Al Hosn is heavily dressed up and inspired by something that’s unique to Abu Dhabi. In this case, it’s Qasr-Al Hosn, considered as the oldest stone building in the capital of the United Arab Emirates and a national landmark at that for its long and rich history. For its part, Rolls-Royce Bespoke kept with the theme of the Wisdom Limited Collection, presenting the Phantom Coupe as inspired by one of Abu Dhabi’s most important landmarks.
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2017 Rolls-Royce Wraith Inspired By Sheikh Zayed Bridge
Rolls-Royce Bespoke’s Wisdom Limited Collection for the Abu Dhabi market has given birth to some very interesting creations. One of those works, the Phantom Inspired by Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, paid tribute to one of the largest mosques in the world that also happened to have been named after the founder and first president of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan. The famed architect’s influence on the collection doesn’t just end there, though, because another member of this exclusive collection is the Rolls-Royce Wraith Inspired by Sheikh Zayed Bridge, Rolls-Royce Bespoke’s tribute piece to the Sheikh Zayed Bridge, considered as one of the most intricately designed bridges in the world.
The details on the Wraith Inspired by Sheikh Zayed Bridge may not be as intricate as the ones found on its Phantom counterpart, but they still capture the essence of the world-famous bridge, right down to the use of blue, white, and silver as the main colors. The free-flowing aesthetic is evident in the exterior and interior of the imposing coupe, just as the Sheikh Zayed Bridge’s massive, curved-design arches casts a daunting presence on the entire country. And if you’re really patient with the details on this car, you’d be very surprised at what Rolls-Royce did to its interior. It’s not the most fashionable cabin in the collection, but it sure is the one you’d want to be in when you’re tired and ready to sleep. After all, very few things are as relaxing as sleeping under the stars.
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2017 Rolls-Royce Wraith Inspired by Falconry
By now, it’s been established that Rolls-Royce Bespoke’s Wisdom Limited Collection for Rolls-Royce Abu Dhabi has evolved into the perfect showcase for the British luxury brand’s personalization division. Not that it needed to prove that creations like the Wraith Inspired by Film, Wraith Inspired by Music, and Wraith Inspired by Rugby already made that claim emphatically. However, seeing these seven, one-off creations perfectly encapsulates what Rolls-Royce Bespoke is fully capable of if given a blank canvas to work its magic. Take the Rolls-Royce Wraith Inspired by Falconry for example. From a distance, it looks like a clean, all-white Rolls-Royce Wraith that’s no different from other Wraiths of its kind. But once you come closer to the car, you start noticing details that identify it as a true one-off piece.
That’s the kind of treatment that Rolls-Royce Bespoke is capable of. You can even see that from within the Wisdom Limited Collection, specifically how different each model is from one another, and that’s when you consider that there are actually two Wraith models in the collection. One of them is the Wraith Inspired by the Sheikh Zayed Bridge and the other is this one, the Wraith Inspired by Falconry. Two exact same models given two completely different identities. This is the kind of thing you can expect from Rolls-Royce Bespoke. As far as car personalizations go, Rolls-Royce’s division is as good as it’s going to get.
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2017 Rolls-Royce Dawn Inspired by Pearling Tradition
The Rolls-Royce remains the British automaker’s newest model. That’s going to be the case until the Cullinan SUV arrives in the next year or two. For now, the Dawn remains the new kid on the Rolls-Royce block, and that status affords the company plenty of opportunities to get creative with presenting the luxury droptop. We’ve seen the Dawn get turned into the Bespoke Porto Corvo. We’ve seen it get a Fashion Edition treatment. Now, it’s being used as part of Rolls-Royce Abu Dhabi’s new Wisdom Collection. This, fine folks, is the Rolls-Royce Dawn inspired by Pearling Tradition.
You’ve probably pieced together by now that this exclusive Rolls-Royce Dawn makes up a collection of Rolls-Royce models that have been designed to celebrate its presence in the Middle Eastern region. It certainly goes without saying that the company considers the Emirates as one of its biggest markets, stagnating sales notwithstanding. The Wisdom Collection that includes the special edition Dawn is made up of a total of seven different one-off models, one each for every model that Rolls makes and, somewhat curiously, two for the Rolls-Royce Wraith. Each of the seven one-off models also pays tribute to a unique heritage of Abu Dhabi, with the one-off Dawn specifically shining a spotlight on the Arabian Pearl, one of the most sought-after types of pearls in the world.
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2017 Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe Inspired By Desert Rose
Rolls-Royce’s Bespoke personalization program has given us a lot of interesting creations over the years. The expansion of the British automaker’s lineup has provided RRB with even more opportunities to make some creative special edition models, but for a time, Rolls-Royce Bespoke was limited to just the Phantom, the Ghost, and all the other iterations of both models. One such iteration, the Phantom Drophead Coupe, has gone through the hands of Rolls-Royce Bespoke, which created beauties like the Olympic Editions, Art Deco Special Edition, and most recently, the “inspired by Desert Rose” Edition.
Officially, this model is called the Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe Inspired by Desert Rose. It makes up one of seven models that Rolls-Royce Abu Dhabi commissioned Rolls-Royce Bespoke to make to celebrate the automaker’s presence in the Middle Eastern country. The whole lot of one-off, Rolls-Royce models is referred to as the Wisdom Collection. In addition to the Desert Rose, Rolls-Royce also created the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Edition, the Qasr Al-Hosn Edition, and the Ancient Trade Routes Edition. The Desert Rose Edition takes the cake though for being the cleanest looking of all seven models. The treatment it received works incredibly well on a car like the Phantom Drophead Coupe, blending supreme Rolls-Royce class and luxury with the mesmerizing tranquility of the unique flower.
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Why is the new E-Class showing "Qibla" on its new Compass? Because Middle-East...
Mercedes has, on more than one occasion, boasted its relentless strategy for growth. Markets like China, Germany, and the U.S., taking up a big portion of the brand’s motivation to grow. It might sound surprising to some, but the Middle East is also a key market for the German manufacturer.
This fact was made evident years ago. In fact, in a conversation with Gulf Business back in 2013, Matthias Luhrs – the VP of global sales at Mercedes-Benz – said, “The Middle East is one of our defined core markets for our 2020 strategy and forms a major or very important part in this growth path.” He continued, “The implication is if you do a region strategy, you’d only do that if it’s an important region or market. Besides markets [such as] China, Germany, U.S., Canada, there’s other growing markets than these three big and one of the major focused markets for us is the Middle East.”
So, how important is the Middle East to Mercedes? It’s important enough that the onboard compass on the Mercedes E-Class actually has an option to turn on a Qibla marker. That’s right; Mercedes sees the Middle East as such an important market that it went out of its way to add a special feature that indicates exactly which direct anyone of Muslim faith should face when praying.
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Businessman Pays Almost $5 Million For "1" License Plate
So you have $5 million. Imagine the things that you can do with it. If you’re in the market for a supercar, you can buy anything the industry has to offer, including the Koenigsegg One:1, the Bugatti Chiron, and even wait for the upcoming the Aston Martin AM-RB 001 hypercar. If you have a good dealer, you might even be able to fit in two of those cars with that budget. But Emirati businessman, Arif Ahmad Al Zarouni, is cut from a different cloth. A very, very different cloth. See, Al Zarouni recently spent $4.9 million on a license plate. A freakin’ license plate.
To be fair, the license plate he bought carried the number “1,” which is apparently a huge deal for car collectors in the United Arab Emirates. Al Zarouni himself admitted that he always wanted to own the “1” license plate and was prepared to bid with an open check to get it. That’s exactly what he did at an auction organized over the weekend, beating out a handful of other bidders to secure the license plate of his dreams, paying 18 times more than the indicated reserve price on the item.
If that’s not a clear-cut example of flexing your lavish wealth, the entire auction took the honors in doing that. According to event organizer Emirates Auction, 1,340 bidders participated in the event, 60 of whom paid a knee-buckling $13.6 million on special license plates. The “1” plate may have been the biggest winner of the lot, but the “12” and “22” plates did pretty well for themselves too, fetching prices of around $563,550 and $566,300, respectively.
The sheer absurdity of these plates fetching bids deep in six-figure territory helped the auction earn its status as one of the biggest auctions ever organized in the United Arab Emirates. All because Arif Ahmad Al Zarouni wanted the “1” and did just about everything in the power of his check book to see that he won it.
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In 2014 I put together a list of ten cool cars that we can’t have in the U.S., which included vehicles that are mostly restricted to the European and Australian markets. With Nissan having just launched the Patrol Nismo, it’s time to update that list as this SUV isn’t coming to North America.
Developed specifically for the Middle East, the the Patrol Nismo was unveiled in Dubai, where Nissan just launched its high-performance sub-brand. Though it may sound hard to believe, the SUV is exactly what its name says: a beefed-up Patrol created by the same people that are responsible for the awesome GT-R Nismo and Juke-R. Sure, it may not be powered by the almighty twin-turbo, 3.8-liter V-6 found in the AWD supercar, but it has plenty of power to brag about, as well as a long list of Nismo add-ons inside and out.
Unfortunately, the Patrol Nismo is being offered exclusively in the United Arab Emirates for the time being and that’s not likely to change anytime soon. And it’s all bad news for the U.S. too, as the Patrol isn’t available in North America and bringing the Nismo-badged version here doesn’t make any sense for the Japanese. But despite its limited availability, the Patrol Nismo is an SUV worth looking into, and that’s exactly what we’ll do in the review below.
Continue reading to learn more about the 2016 Nissan Patrol Nismo.