Rolls-Royce has confirmed it will show its first electric car at the 2011 Geneva motor show. The 102EX is the latest in a line of concept cars – EX stands for experimental – which history suggests should go on to influence production cars.
The Rolls-Royce 102EX is known internally as the Phantom Experimental Electric and is being used to judge reaction to a battery-powered Roller among owners clubs and media.
Engineers are using the pilot project to test the real-world range of a heavy electric Rolls-Royce, to judge the refinement of an EV drivetrain appropriate to a Rolls-Royce and to monitor the batteries’ performance in cold weather.
Rolls-Royce 102EX: the electric Rolls
CAR broke the story about Rolls preparing electric cars back in 2008. As part of the BMW empire, Rolls-Royce is planning alternative powertrains just as much as Mini is.
The two extremes of the BMW range might seem like chalk and cheese, but this joint approach makes sense. Your typical Rolls-Royce owner might not be quite as fussed by fuel prices as a Cooper owner, but their environmental conscience may be just as wholesome. It makes a lot of sense for a CEO or aristo not to flaunt consumption in these straitened times.
Rolls-Royce CEO speaks
‘We have engineered the world’s first battery electric vehicle for the ultra-luxury segment,’ said CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös. ‘With this vehicle, we begin an exploration into alternative drivetrains, seeking clarity on which alternative technologies may be suitable to drive Rolls-Royce motor cars of the future.’
This afternoon, parent firm BMW will make a further announcement on the future of its ‘Project i’ cars. The company is planning a sub-brand for its future electric vehicles, such as the Megacity Vehicle.
Electric Rolls-Royce: the background
Former Rolls CEO Tom Purves told Gavin Green: ‘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. Truly, the loudest noise you would hear would be the tick of the clock. We also stand for strong and instant torque – and an electric motor delivers maximum torque instantly. The “waftability” would be fantastic.’