A few years ago, prestige car maker Rolls-Royce unveiled the fully electric 102EX Phantom Concept car. Unveiled at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show, the all-electric 102EX then took part in a whirlwind tour around the world, giving Rolls-Royce customers the chance to give their feedback on the brand’s first foray into plug-in technology.
After returning to England in December 2011, the 102EX was declared a success… and the project promptly killed by the luxury British automaker.
Since then, Rolls-Royce has talked about the possibility of introducing a plug-in hybrid car to its range to enable it to meet tough new emissions targets, but now it seems that the concept of giving the Spirit of Ecstasy 100 per cent electrified wings might be back from the grave.
That’s according to Auto Express, which claims that Rolls-Royce is undergoing a change of heart when it comes to electric vehicles.
“We look at all the trends, the trend for hybrid and electric vehicles but the question we have to ask is, is this something our customers want?” explained Richard Collar, Head of Bespoke Sales and Marketing at the firm, adding that an electric Rolls-Royce would be “something very true to the brand.”
It’s not clear what exactly Collar means by this, but from what we’ve heard, the 102EX experimental prototype which toured the world three years ago was comparable to the gasoline Phantom it was based on in terms of luxury, refinement and ride.
If it were to produce an all-electric car, Rolls-Royce’s biggest challenge would be one of range. Marketed as the ultimate ‘no-compromise’ car, any electric Rolls-Royce would need enough on-board battery capacity to allow it to drive several hundred miles without breaking into an electron-induced sweat.
Of course, this kind of range is already possible in a production electric car, courtesy of the Tesla Model S sedan. But the secret to the Tesla Model S and its phenomenal range lies not just with its large battery pack but with its very design and the materials used in its construction: most noticeably an incredibly lightweight and strong all-aluminium body.
The Model S tips the scales at 2.3 short tons. The Rolls-Royce 102EX which toured the world in 2011 weighed fifty per cent more, no doubt due in part to Rolls-Royce’s legendary build quality, opulent interior and extensive sound proofing.
With that in mind, producing an electric Rolls-Royce capable of long-distance travel may seem impossible, but the secret to a potential Rolls-Royce may not lie with the company itself, but its German parent company BMW.
The first automaker to use carbon-fibre body panels, there’s no reason why BMW couldn’t produce lightweight, carbon-fibre panels in more…traditional styling for use by Rolls-Royce. And with BMW known to be working on lithium-air battery technology, a technology which could easily double or even triple the real-world range of an electric car’s battery pack, an electrified Rolls doesn’t seem so far-fetched.
Yet with an all-electric version still just a consideration rather than a certainty, we think it’s more likely Rolls-Royce’s plug-in future lies with plug-in hybrid rather than electric cars, something it has hinted at in the past.
But what do you think? Will Rolls-Royce actually bring an electric car to the market? And will its customers buy it?
Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.
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