‘‘Once around the park and home, James” is a stiff-upper lip cliché for rich British ladies—perhaps even the Queen—when talking to their chauffeurs. For the rest of the world, the motor car that immediately comes to mind with this phrase is none other than the Rolls Royce.
Among the United Kingdom’s ultra-luxury brands, Rolls-Royce is the pinnacle. For over a century, the automobile company has built works of art fit for royalty and the world’s richest men to ride.
And though it took more than a hundred years, the iconic British car maker—believe it or not—has now added the Philippines to its exclusive and select clientele.
Manila officially welcomed Rolls-Royce with two back-to-back events held at The Peninsula Manila in Makati City. The first was the official dealer appointment on June 19 followed by a gala night on June 20.
Rolls-Royce is available in the country through the brand’s first-ever dealership with British Bespoke Automobiles (BBA), which now officially operates Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Manila.
The grand arrival
While everyone likes to say that Rolls-Royce has finally arrived in the country, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Manila’s own president thinks otherwise. For Willy Tee Ten, it is “the Philippines that has arrived” with the historic event.
“Today, our country, the Philippines, has arrived,” Tee Ten proudly announced at the June 19 signing and turnover ceremonies attended by Rolls-Royce Motor Cars representatives, comprised of Regional Director for Asia Pacific Paul Harris and General Manager for Emerging Markets-Asia Herfried Hasenoehrl. The event’s guest of honor was British Ambassador to the Philippines Stephen Lillie.
“This is a landmark event for my team and for our country. We are honored to bring Rolls-Royce to the Philippines, now a market with passion and appreciation for luxury and quality,” continued Tee Ten, the top executive at the helm of the momentous project.
Tee Ten considers the Rolls-Royce dealership as the result of his years of hard work in the local automotive industry. He is the owner of Autohub Group, the mother company of BBA, which also imports and distributes the Mini Cooper.
“All the hard work has finally paid off. We are expanding and the ultimate reward is getting Rolls-Royce. We hope that this will put us on the global map,” Tee Ten added.
BBA also revealed the three prized Rolls-Royce models, which will be made available in the country; they are Phantom, Ghost and Wraith.
The event was capped off by the turnover of the “Spirit of Ecstasy,” the iconic female statuette adorning all Rolls-Royce cars.
In the past years, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars has been strategically expanding in the Asia-Pacific region besides China. In Japan for example, a new showroom in Osaka was recently opened, adding to existing bases in Tokyo and Yokohama.
Also, a boutique showroom has just been opened in Bangkok, Thailand, adding to a double-storey showroom in the city. At Taichung in West Taiwan, another showroom is set to open making it the second after the one in Taipei. Additional showrooms in Ahmedabad and Chandigarh, India will soon open as well, aside from those already operating in Mumbai, New Delhi and Hyderabad. Finally, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars will soon establish an official presence in Hanoi, Vietnam and Perth, Western Australia.
With the addition of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Manila, the company is now represented in 21 cities across the Asia Pacific region, outside of China.
But more than Rolls-Royce’s own growth in this region, the first dealer appointment in the Philippines also signifies the country’s very own economic growth.
Harris, the regional director of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Asia Pacific, personally acknowledged this during the launch. He explained, “You are aware of the current views of how the Philippines is being valued as a destination for investment, and this is what we at Rolls-Royce are also seeing here. We have been monitoring this market for some time now and we have seen the interest level in the brand increase.”
Michael Cua, the senior vice president for Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Manila, concurred, adding, “We see latent demand for the Rolls-Royce brand in the Philippines from a growing number of clients’ expressions of interest.”
As a matter of fact, Tee Ten revealed that even before the official ceremonies, many had already expressed interest in acquiring their own Rolls-Royce cars, including business mogul Manny Pangilinan.
According to Harris, all these factors—increase in demand, economic recovery, and a “committed” dealing partner—made them finally decide to authorize BBA.
A piece of art
Back at the Rolls-Royce plant in Goodwood, United Kingdom, each car is built by no less than 60 craftsmen. So much attention is given to detail that the base model Ghost takes a minimum of three months to finish—a piece.
But what truly makes a Rolls-Royce an ultra-luxury creation is that each car can be commissioned and customized to suit every customer’s preference.
As Hasenoehrl said, “Today’s ultra-luxury is ‘personal.’ Rolls-Royce has a legacy of building Bespoke cars that stretches back over a hundred years. We provide the pinnacle in ‘automotive tailoring.’”
“Bespoke” is Rolls-Royce’s own term for car customization.
Harris then revealed that the longest Rolls-Royce unit ever “bespoken” was three years.
The company will give this very same privilege to its Philippine clientele when the official Manila showroom opens in early 2014.
“The new showroom in Manila will be complete with a bespoke lounge, after sales facilities, and a team that will serve the mantra: ‘The only limit is your imagination’,” Hasenoehrl added.
In the meantime, an interim showroom is set to open at Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City by the fourth quarter of this year.
But how much will a Rolls-Royce cost? According to Tee Ten, Rolls-Royce’s Ghost without much “Bespoking” would cost P25.9 million.
“Sometimes we don’t even call them [Rolls-Royce] a car, it’s a piece of art. We believe our customer is a different breed. They want customized, bespoke cars,” Tee Ten concluded.