Were you dreaming of driving an electric Rolls-Royce such as the 102EX experimental prototype Phantom the company has been showcasing since last year? Don’t expect to be able to order one anytime soon, but a plug-in series hybrid may still be a contender says the luxury carmaker.
In a discussion with Car and Driver, Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös explained the silence and power of the electric Rolls-Royce impressed potential customers, but range anxiety and time needed to recharge were issues deemed unacceptable.
But do not despair, the promise of a ride for Rolls vehicles as quiet as Chevy Volt owners have already been raving about is still a possibility. Müller-Ötvös said that a gasoline plus electric range-extender solution – in line with what GM chose for the Volt – could be considered.
Unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in 2011, the Rolls-Royce Phantom Experimental Electric – 102EX was based on a Phantom but featured a fully electric powertrain.
The 102EX featured the Phantom’s aluminum spaceframe which the company has said is groundbreaking and vital to the car’s dynamic prowess, as well for imparting a sense of calm and tranquility to the occupants. However, the naturally aspirated 6.75-liter V12 petrol engine and 6-speed gearbox have been replaced by a lithium-ion battery pack and two electric motors mounted on the rear sub-frame. These motors are connected to a single-speed transmission with integrated differential. Each motor is power rated to 145 kw.
Since it was first shown, it has stimulated debate on whether electric motoring can deliver a true Rolls-Royce experience, and provided the company with insights from customers, thought-leaders and media.
Media attention was also garnered last year when the 102EX went on a tour around the globe and was used as a test bed that allowed Rolls-Royce to collect data and customer feedback needed to make an informed decision on alternative powertrains.
Market research is now being collated and the company will publish its findings in the first quarter of 2012.
Will Rolls Royce now copy Chevrolet’s halo car to improve its already legendary hush ride? Stay tuned.