Sometimes things work out better in theory than in practice. Rolls-Royce is finding that to be the case with electric power. A few years back images of a Phantom surfaced with “Dual Mode” hybrid badges.
It turned out to be the owner pulling a joke, but the idea has been considered. More seriously though, an electric Phantom has been brought up for discussion numerous times over the past few years. We remember hearing about it back in 2009. Then, last year the 102EX Concept was shown off in Geneva. Former Chief Executive Tom Purves endorsed the idea enthusiastically.
In 2009 he said:“Many of our customers do small mileages exclusively in the city…for these customers, an electric Rolls-Royce would be ideal…..we stand for unmatched refinement and you can’t get a quieter and less intrusive engine than a well engineered electric motor…..we also stand for strong and instant torque – and an electric motor delivers maximum torque instantly. The ‘waftability’ would be fantastic.”
Those things are all true. Electric fits in perfectly with Rolls values on a lot of fronts.
The “waftability” factor has been put forth as the ultimate definition of what makes a Rolls Royce a Rolls Royce. Quiet, creamy smooth, no shifting from a transmission, lots of low end torque – perfect right? Not so fast says Motor Trend. Given that the idea was being seriously considered, the 102EX Concept was produced to gain feedback from customers. The result? Rolls found out that its buyers really love their 12-cylinder engines.
“I haven’t yet seen a blank check on my desk to say ‘Torsten, build me an electric Rolls-Royce” says current CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös. “Over 500 people have been behind the wheel now, all over the world. The feedback is ambivalent so far, unfortunately. I wouldn’t have thought that. Because I’ve always loved the car from the very beginning……the clear feedback is, there’s too much compromise.”
Compromise refers to 8 hour charge times and a range of 120 miles. Rolls buyers are wealthy, so the thinking was an electric Phantom could just be added to their fleet. The prospect of such an expensive vehicle with limited capability proved to be too much to stomach though. Nothing being stranded on the side of the road with your electric Rolls! So while the 102EX had a lot going for it, those two handicaps did it in. Given it is keen on developing alternative power options, it will be interesting to see what Rolls Royce tries out next.