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Electric Rolls-Royce glides into luxury EV market

By Martin Leggett - 02 Mar 2011 12:40:0 GMT
Electric Rolls-Royce glides into luxury EV market

Image Credit Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

The momentum towards electric got another kick forwards yesterday, with Rolls-Royce unveiling it's prototype 102EX, an all-electric luxury adaptation of the Phantom – the British firm's envy-topping model. Rolls-Royce are seeing this bold move as a means to test appetites for alternative-powered vehicles in the ultra-status symbol market.

At a penciled-in cost of around $1.6 million, that's a lot of status that prospective purchasers will garner. But the Phantom EE (Experimental Electric) also claims to deliver suitably impressive-sounding numbers to match that price-tag: 390 horse-power from its twin electric motors – and zero to 60 in less then 8 seconds – all for zero tailpipe emissions.

This has been achieved by replacing the usual V12 petrol engine with two electric motors, and a whopping lithium-ion battery pack. The frame has been wholly fabricated from aluminum to reduce weight.

The Phantom EE can be plugged into the mains for charging, with a full-charge range of some 120 miles. Given the main use of the Phantom usually involves a serene cruising of town, that distance shouldn't pose too much of a challenge for most prospective buyers.

As well as confirming the eco-credentials of any elite buyers, the Phantom EE will be able to offer continuity on the brand's reputation for quietness and performance. One thing that electric motors have been noted for is their silent but impressive responsiveness.

Some may question whether uber-luxury and sustainability can co-exist. But if there's one thing that captures the imagination of the car-driving public, it's luxury and performance. If the top-end of the market is driving fast towards an electric future, maybe that will help accelerate the dramatic shift to EVs, needed for the mass-auto market.

As Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Rolls-Royce CEO, says ''With this vehicle, we begin an exploration into alternative drive-trains, seeking clarity on which alternative technologies may be suitable to drive Rolls-Royce motor cars of the future.'' The fact the top marques are now pulling rank, to establish their reputation as eco-friendly producers, does show which way the wind is now blowing in the car industry.