In 1900, before Charles Rolls met his business partner Sir Henry Royce, the inventor prophesied the electric automobile’s road ahead after test-driving an early electric motor car named the Columbia.
“The electric car is perfectly noiseless and clean,” Rolls said, according to Rolls-Royce press. “There is no smell or vibration, and they should become very useful when fixed charging stations can be arranged. But for now, I do not anticipate that they will be very serviceable – at least for many years to come.”
Talk about prophetic. 117 years after Rolls’ statement, Rolls-Royce announced road-testing for the Spectre, its first all-electric vehicle. Just like its founders, the elite car company dedicated itself to elevating the global all-electric car revolution with not only the first super-luxury ride free of an internal combustion engine, but by dedicating itself to a fossil fuel-free future.
“This is not a prototype. It’s the real thing, it will be tested in plain sight and our clients will take first deliveries of the car in the fourth quarter of 2023,” Rolls-Royce Motor Cars chief executive officer, Torsten Müller-Ötvös, said in an announcement.
The hitch is that while gas stations can be found close to anywhere that people drive, the charging solution is not quite as far advanced as Rolls would hope with consumer cars coming off the line in just more than a year from now.
Still, with cars like the Mercedes EQ S and BMW’s electrification gathering steam, the notion of a battery-powered full-size luxury car is no longer quite as ambitious as it once was. Not one to settle on the current trends, when Rolls Motor
“With this new product we set out our credentials for the full electrification of our entire product portfolio by 2030. By then, Rolls-Royce will no longer be in the business of producing or selling any internal combustion engine products.”
Rolls-Royce didn’t begin this process yesterday. This has been an over decade-long effort that kicked off with an electric powertrain in the late 2000s. In 2011, the luxury automaker revealed the Phantom 102EX, a fully operational all-electric car with its V12 ditched for batteries. Rolls followed this in 2016 with the fully electric 103EX, which represents the marque’s mission for the next few decades.
The Phantom featured the marque’s proprietary aluminum architecture: A scalable and flexible frame that would underpin all forthcoming Rolls-Royce motor cars. This exclusive technology was created as the foundation of not just internal combustion engine models, as it now serves for Cullinan and Ghost, but for new models with battery-driven powertrains like the Spectre, a vision of a shadowy yet optimistic time ahead.
“Spectre is a name given to otherworldly beings synonymous with great power and apparition; creatures of an alternative realm that make their presence felt through fleeting manifestation,” Müller-Ötvös said. “A spectre forces the world to pause. Then, as quickly as it appears, it dissipates, leaving a wake of exhilaration, energy, and intrigue.”
The name signifies a new dawn for Rolls-Royce and the continental spelling was purposely chosen to honor the brand’s heritage.
“This name perfectly matches the extraordinary Rolls-Royce that we are announcing today — a motor car that makes its presence felt before disappearing into a world inaccessible to all but the very few. As a quintessentially British brand, we have selected the British spelling, however the meaning is universal,” Müller-Ötvös said.
Though they may be fleeting, watch for Spectres on the road near you over the next 12 months as Rolls plans to simulate more than 400 years of use, covering 2.5 million kilometers in “travel to all four corners of the world to push this new motor car to the limit.”
“Spectre is the living fulfilment of Charles Rolls’ prophecy,” Müller-Ötvös said. “My promise, made on behalf of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, is kept. Now we begin a remarkable undertaking. We will propel the world’s most progressive and influential women and men into a brilliant, electrified future.”
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