Malaysians among the most sophisticated Rolls-Royce patrons

The Phantom remains Rolls-Royce’s most rare and bespoke model

By RAHIMI YUNUS / Pic By MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

Malaysians Rolls-Royce owners are among the most “tasteful” customers in the world, according to Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Kuala Lumpur MD Datuk Michael Ong.

“Malaysians have taste, the most tasteful,” Ong said on the sidelines of the new eighth generation Rolls-Royce Phantom exclusive media preview in Petaling Jaya yesterday.

“There was a customer who wanted to please his wife and matched the colour of his Rolls-Royce with his wife’s lipstick tone,” Ong said.

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Ltd (Asia Pacific) corporate communications manager Hal Serudin said the company has received a handful of orders, with the first delivery expected to be made next year.

“In Malaysia, we have some of the most bespoke Rolls-Royce in the world, absolutely,” Serudin said.

According to Serudin, there was a local customer who requested the colour of the Rolls-Royce bodywork paint to be the same colour of a songket. The new Rolls-Royce Phantom VIII’s (eighth generation) global premier was held in London on July 27 and yesterday marked its official debut in Malaysia.

Some 4,000 Rolls-Royce vehicles were delivered to customers in over 50 countries last year.

“We need three to six months to build one, provided production slots are secured. Depending on the bespoke demands, the first Phantom is expected to hit the Malaysian road by next year,” Serudin said.

Rolls-Royce is in a class of its own with only ultra-high net worth individuals (UHNWI) of US$30 million (RM126.51 million) and above or over RM100 million would buy its luxury cars.

The new model has been a long time coming, about 14 years after the introduction of its predecessor, the Rolls-Royce Phantom VII, which was introduced back in 2003.

The very first Phantom was first launched in 1925 and to date, the Phantom remains Rolls-Royce’s most rare and bespoke model, compared to its other models such as Ghost, Wraith and Dawn.

“Phantom is even higher level than Ghost. We call it the ‘blank canvas’ of bespoke,” Serudin said.

Ong, meanwhile, said that the Phantom only accounted for 10% of total Rolls-Royce vehicles delivered globally compared to the “everyday” Ghost with 80%.

“Ghost is like the business suit, while Phantom is the tuxedo,” Ong said.

The convertible Rolls-Royce Dawn, launched last year, saw a weaker demand among other models in Malaysia due to the hot and humid climate.

However, Serudin said that Rolls-Royce customers have many homes in other parts of the world, and they are buying the Dawn and stationing it at their properties outside of Malaysia such as Italy, Spain and Australia.

Both Ong and Serudin believe that Rolls-Royce audience are changing with greater interest shown by the super rich young entrepreneurs, and “surprising” low take-ups by the monarchs in comparison.

“The average age for Rolls-Royce patrons globally is 39 years old and for Malaysia, the record showed that it could be as young as a 28-year-old customer. The brand is changing, so does its audience. We now even have Black Badge variants (for Ghost, Wraith and Dawn) meant for younger disruptors,” Serudin said.

A wealth report by Knight Frank in 2017 noted that Malaysia has 630 UHNWIs in 2016 and this is expected to grow 70% in the next 10 years.

“The future for luxury products is there, but necessarily limited. Like luxury jewellery, yacth and even aircraft, we do not intend to put it (the Phantom) in every corner of Bangsar, but people do buy these things,” Ong said.

Pricing in Malaysia for the Phantom Standard Wheelbase starts from RM2.2 million (less taxes), with the Phantom Extended Wheelbase from RM2.5 million (less taxes), depending on the customers’ specifications.