Rolls Royce May Build Its Own Chevy Volt

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and Rolls-Royce is now seriously considering a plug-in hybrid with a Volt-like 30-50 miles e-range within the next five years.

Of course it won’t really be a Volt – it will be a super upscale electrified lead sled not unlike the canceled all-electric 102EX pictured.

But like a Volt, Rolls-Royce CEO Törsten Müller-Ötvös said its PHEV should meet range requirements that the 40-mile range Volt could see depending if it’s a good-range day, or a not-so-good one.

“Our customers have commuting range needs,” said Müller-Ötvös, adding most work in urban environments but live in more rural areas.

Unlike other PHEVs such as the 19-mile-range Ford Energi siblings, or 11-mile range Prius PHEV, or 15-mile Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid or likely similar from the Mercedes S500 PHEV, Rolls wants enough e-miles to make a big enough difference for its clientele.

The Volt, launched late in 2010 was designed to meet the needs of three-quarters of Americans’ daily commuting needs on electric power. To date, it’s the only U.S. market plug-in hybrid offering this much. It was EPA-rated with 16.5-kwh battery at 38 miles, and the quiet addition of an extra 0.6-kwh for 2015 ought to be good for two more miles.

This Rolls-Royce news Autoguide discovered when Müller-Ötvös divulged also the company’s elite clientele has absolutely zero interest in a pure battery electric vehicle.

As Autoguide put it, regardless what concept vehicle Rolls-Royce puts together, “some customers drop down money and say ‘build me this.’” But, the CEO continued of Rolls’ 2012 concept EV, “that never happened with the 102EX.”

Rolls customers complained like others have who are not ready to go all-electric. Objections included recharge time would be too long and range insufficient.

“No compromises are accepted at all,” said Müller-Ötvös.

Indeed.

However, he suggests a plug-in hybrid with a range of 30 to 50 miles is ideal. Rolls buyers aren’t asking for the PHEV either, but, “Rolls-Royce needs an alternative drivetrain,” said Müller-Ötvös.

So imagine: Rolls-Royce – the elite brand of kings, heads of state, rap stars, and other luminaries – renowned for legendary smoothness and quietness for decades. If the PHEV comes, as was true of the 102EX, its electric drivetrain could take that Rolls-Royce quiet-glide ride to new levels.

And by 2019 or so, maybe 30-50 miles will be only average for PHEVs, but it could match the e-range and lack of noise, vibration, and harshness characteristic of the Chevy Volt.

Autoguide