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Take a tour of the new Rolls-Royce $325,000 SUV

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He added: “This Rolls-Royce is probably the most anticipated car in our history but also maybe this year in the automotive industry.”

The first thing to know about the Cullinan is that it is big. Really big. It stands six feet off the ground, weighs in at over 5,800 pounds and packs Rolls-Royce’s 6.75 liter, twin-turbo V12 engine that gets 563 horsepower. And in a first for a Rolls, there’s all-wheel drive and an all-wheel-steering system — so all that weight can move quickly on the streets of Beverly Hills and the dunes of Namibia with equal aplomb. Its top speed is 155 miles per hour.

It’s the interior, however, that makes a Rolls. The Cullinan can fit five people, but the car is so big all of them could be NFL linebackers. The back seat comes in two configurations, either two cockpit-style seats or one long seat that’s the size of most sofas. When the seats are folded down, there is a staggering 21 cubic feet of cargo space.

For drivers, the Cullinan is loaded with night vision (that includes a “nighttime wildlife” setting), an alertness assistant for when you’re tired, a four-camera parking system with panoramic view, and Wi-Fi and entertainment systems.

But perhaps the coolest feature of the Cullinan is in the very back. One of the options is to have a retractable table and leather chairs that instantly transform the tailgate into an outdoor dining lounge for what Rolls-Royce calls “the best seat in the house.” Perfect for those starry nights on the Serengeti or dipping into the Grey Poupon at Giants games.

“This is a more casual car,” Muller-Otvos said, “so it’s not only for watching polo matches or horse races, but it might also be that you’re going to watch your kids playing soccer. It’s a different kind of lifestyle and we cater to these lives.”

The Cullinan will also open up new markets for Rolls, both geographically and demographically.

The poor road conditions in many emerging market and less developed countries makes driving a typical Rolls nearly impossible. So the Cullinan could attract new customers in Brazil, Russia, and parts of Asia. Northern countries prone to snow, like Canada, may also become attractive markets.

“This car was mean to be a global car all over the world,” he said. “We will definitely see a completely new breed of customer.”

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Lockdowns after China’s new Covid-19 outbreak impact steel, iron ore

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This aerial image taken on June 6, 2019 shows a steel factory in Chengde, China’s northern Hebei province.

FRED DUFOUR | AFP | Getty Images

SINGAPORE — A new wave of Covid-19 cases in China’s Hebei province triggered transport restrictions in the major steel-producing region.

The lockdowns in Hebei include areas surrounding steel mills, limiting the ability to transport the metal to customers. China is the world’s top steel producer and analysts say Hebei contributes over 20% of the country’s total output.

Coronavirus cases in Hebei have been rising since the start of the year, prompting the province to lock down its capital, Shijiazhuang, and at least two other areas in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

The curbs are unlikely to affect steel production for now, but they could hurt demand by spurring the manufacturing sector to stop work earlier than planned ahead of the major Lunar New Year holiday, commodity data provider S&P Global Platts said earlier this month.

Demand and prices for raw materials used to make steel like iron ore could also shoot up, according to analysts.

Restrictions in Hebei

Steel deliveries by truck have been suspended in Hebei, leaving rail as the only way to transport steel, Shanghai-based Chinese metal data provider Mysteel said in a note last week. The report said blocked roads have led to completed steel piling up at major mills in the region.

“Partial lockdowns have restricted the transportation of goods, resulting in a sharper build in inventories held by local steel mills rather than at stockists in the first half of January,” said Atilla Widnell, co-founder of Singapore-based Navigate Commodities, in an email to CNBC on Monday.

“We have heard anecdotal evidence that some stockists and traders are reluctant to tie up cash flow in-case a ‘soft lockdown’ is prolonged or intensified,” he added.

S&P Global Platts said inventories are rising at the Jingye Iron & Steel mill in Hebei’s capital city Shijiazhuang. The firm cited a source at the mill, which produces 13 million metric tons of crude steel a year.

Manufacturing, construction sectors stopping work

Manufacturing and construction sites in China are set to stop work earlier than usual ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday between Feb. 11 and 17. That’s likely to hit demand for steel, which is heavily used in those sectors.

The government advised manufacturing and construction workers to return home before the peak holiday travel period, said S&P Global Platts.

“According to market sources, Beijing has done this in (an) effort to reduce the possibility of a spike in COVID-19 cases during and after the Lunar New Year holidays,” the firm wrote.

Work stopping earlier suggests steel demand is set to drop, causing inventories to rise elsewhere.

“Some traders said they were unwilling to increase their steel inventories as they anticipate having to hold on to these for much longer than usual, and with steel prices continuing to soar, building inventories will put pressure on their cash flows,” S&P Global Platts added.

Impact on steel, iron ore

Daniel Hynes, senior commodity strategist at Australian bank ANZ, told CNBC on Monday that risks could spread to iron ore.

“There are concerns that a further rise in coronavirus cases in Hebei could result in some steel making regions being locked down. This would obviously impact demand for iron ore, as steel mills would likely see supply chains disrupted, thus impacting steel production,” he said in an email.

The ripple effects can already be seen in the costs for raw materials used to process steel like coking coal, said energy research consultancy Wood Mackenzie.

Coking coal prices are surging and are about 450 yuan per ton higher than last year, according to Zhilu Wang, research associate at the firm.

“This is due to the restrictions on inter-provincial transportation in Hebei provinces which has resulted in the increase of transportation fee,” said Wang.

While this could in turn support steel prices, Wang predicted it could mildly weaken overall as traders stock less of the commodity due to the Covid uncertainty.

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China loan prime rates, coronavirus, currencies

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SINGAPORE — Stocks in Japan were set to trade higher at the open as investors in Asia-Pacific wait for the release of China’s latest benchmark lending rate.

Futures pointed to a higher open for Japanese stocks. The Nikkei futures contract in Chicago was at 28,755 while its counterpart in Osaka was at 28,700. That compared against the Nikkei 225’s last close at 28,633.46.

Meanwhile, shares in Australia edged higher in early trading, with the S&P/ASX 200 up about 0.5%.

In Southeast Asia, stocks in Malaysia will be closely watched following reports that almost all states in the country will be placed under Movement Control Order from Friday as the government seeks to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Investor focus on Wednesday will likely be on China’s benchmark lending rate, expected to be out at around 9:30 a.m. HK/SIN. A majority of traders and analysts in a snap Reuters poll predict no change to either the one-year loan prime rate (LPR) or the five-year LPR, which were last sitting at 3.85% and 4.65%, respectively.

Currencies

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 90.476 following an earlier high above 90.7.

The Japanese yen traded at 103.87 per dollar, having weakened from levels below 103.8 against the greenback yesterday. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7706, still off levels above $0.775 seen last week.

Here’s a look at what’s on tap:

  • China: One year and five year loan prime rates at 9:30 a.m. HK/SIN

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From Jeep to Maserati, Stellantis to rollout 10 new EV models in 2021

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