Anas Zawawi Khalid has been heading up Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Kuala Lumpur since 2017. It was a somewhat fortuitous appointment—he originally met with Dato’ Michael Ong, group executive director of Quill Group and chairman of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Kuala Lumpur, and representatives of the marque’s Asia-Pacific team to discuss importing the brand into Malaysia. “One thing led to another and I found myself in the operational seat,” he says. From the start, he was named executive director of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Kuala Lumpur, a position he maintains until today.
He had some prior experience with car sales and distribution, but Anas quickly discovered Rolls-Royce to be something else entirely. After all, the brand is one of the most iconic in the world and caters to an extremely exclusive clientele. Managing such a brand goes far beyond the mere selling of cars. Very often, it is about guiding someone along a pathway of customisations. Even the most serially produced Rolls-Royce vehicle has the potential to become a highly individual and personal work of art.
“I would say that for Rolls-Royce in particular, it’s about the client’s journey,” he explains. “It’s about the journey from a simple idea of what a client would want from their Rolls-Royce to actually putting it on a design and eventually producing the car. Occasionally, it also involves going to Goodwood and spec-ing it up and configuring it to what they want.
“And it doesn’t stop there. Once you’ve made that sale, it doesn’t mean the journey ends. You’re expected to ensure that the journey of owning a Rolls-Royce is effortless in terms of ownership services or anything else, really.”
These days, Anas and his team are assisted by Whispers, an owners-only app that offers a curated collection of experiences and opportunities, supported by a 24/7 concierge service.
“It’s attention to detail,” he adds on what makes a good customer relationship. “You have to utilise everything at your disposal to make whatever it is they need happen.”
For Rolls-Royce, he feels that nothing is impossible. “I have come across instances when I thought, look, that’s not going to happen. I don’t think the factory can do that,” he relates about some particularly challenging customisations that have been requested. “And they came back and said they could do it. I’ve not come across anything that the factory can’t do or cannot give you a solution to. So I think this is something special from Rolls-Royce.”
About the Rolls-Royce manufacture, he says: “I think Goodwood has a whole lot of dedicated people who make things happen. That’s what’s special about Goodwood. It’s the culture there, to take the best that exists and make it better. Everybody I meet in Goodwood has that positive attitude. They tell me it can be done, it should be done and we will get it done.”
Over the years, Anas has observed an uptick in the brand’s popularity and mindshare, precipitated by two recent models that have catered to the modern consumer: the Cullinan SUV of 2018 and the second-generation Ghost four-door that debuted in 2020. “The Cullinan was a game-changer for us. And then when we unveiled the new Ghost, it also refreshed a lot of interest in Malaysia,” he says.
The Ghost has been especially popular. The full-sized sedan compromises nothing but is seen as a more manageable and practical option compared to the even larger—and sometimes more formal—Phantom. “But I think our clients are not done yet,” he adds. “They’re always striving for more, and I think with the Phantom, it’s also about that. They’re going for the Ghost, they’re going for the Cullinan and they’re going for the Phantom eventually. It’s a journey, and it’s also a journey between all these models.”
The recent launch of the Spectre, the first all-electric offering from Rolls-Royce, has also served to boost interest, even though the fact that it is an electric vehicle is somewhat secondary. “It’s a Rolls-Royce first, an electric second,” Anas points out.
Anas is also a self-professed car enthusiast. His Wraith, the two-door coupe option from Rolls-Royce and one of the brand’s most driver-centric vehicles, is one of his favourites. “I love the track. I think Sepang especially is a beautiful, beautiful track,” he says. “I have not been on the track with the Wraith, though, so I might have to change that. I’ve spoken to a couple of Rolls-Royce trainers who took the Wraith on a circuit in the UK—they say it’s a beautiful drive. The car is beautiful to drive, so I can only imagine it on the smoothness of a track.”
He notes that the Wraith holds what is almost certainly the last of the 6.6-litre twin-turbo V12 engines that we will see from Rolls-Royce. “It’s not going anywhere!” Anas says of his car.
Illustrations by Tan Eng Huat