Rolls-Royce Is Putting Serious Thought Into Electric Vehicles
There’s still a lot of work that needs to be done before an EV Rolls becomes a realityby Kirby Garlitos, on
Seven years ago, Rolls-Royce rolled out the Phantom Experimental Electric 102EX Concept at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show. Then things turned quiet in Crewe. Outside of CEO Torsten Muller hinting at the possibility of an EV Rolls in 2015, we haven’t heard a peep about the company’s electric car plans since the 102EX broke cover. That changed recently when a high-ranking BMW board member admitted that the Spirit of Ecstasy could go electric real soon.
Owners of Rolls-Royce models have become more open to the possibility of an EV Rolls, with some even asking about the company’s plans for the growing segment.
BMW board member Peter Schwarzenbauer is the man who dropped the bombshell. In an interview with Automotive News Europe, Schwarzenbauer said that “there’s no doubt in my mind you will see an electric Rolls-Royce.” That’s as close to a commitment as you can get from someone who actually has a hand in deciding these things. Apparently, owners of Rolls-Royce models have become more open to the possibility of an EV Rolls, with some even asking about the company’s plans for the growing segment.
Schwarzenbauer refused to identify a specific timetable, but he did say that an all-electric Rolls-Royce isn’t going to arrive overnight. There are some issues that need to be addressed, not the least of which is developing a different platform that can accommodate an electric powertrain. As it is, Rolls’ existing aluminum space frame platform isn’t configured to fit an EV powertrain. Schwarzenbauer did say that the company doesn’t have to develop an all-new platform specifically for its electric cars. Instead, it could make “a major adaptation” to its current platform.
An all-electric Rolls-Royce still sounds weird when you think about the company’s stature as a top-shelf marque
Should Rolls-Royce decide to make the leap into the world EVs, it at least has the aforementioned Phantom Experimental Electric 102EX to look back on. The concept was developed in 2011 as a test vehicle for the brand to gather as much relevant data as possible with the hopes of determining whether jumping through the electric car world was worth the trouble. It’s taken seven years to get to this point, but Schwarzenbauer’s comments should get a lot of people excited. On that end, it looks like the 102 EX could still play a big role in guiding the company if it decides to walk down the EV aisle.
For those who don’t remember, the Phantom Experimental 102 EX carried the largest car battery pack in the world when it debuted in Geneva seven years ago. Its pack was made up of five modules of lithium cells that weighed 1,411 pounds (640 kg). Power came from two electric motors that were mounted on the rear sub-frame, and together, the motors combined to produce an output of 375 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque. Those numbers helped the 102 EX sprint from 0 to 60 mph in under eight seconds.
An all-electric Rolls-Royce still sounds weird when you think about the company’s stature as a top-shelf marque. But just as it did when it decided to develop the Cullinan SUV, it appears that Rolls-Royce is once again steering into the wind as opposed to against it.
Read our full review on the 2011 Rolls Royce Phantom Experimental Electric 102EX Concept.
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