At a time when electric vehicles are increasingly becoming the order of the day, what exactly does a manufacturer like Rolls-Royce do to hold its position at the top of the heap? For, much of what it stood for in terms of refinement of the mechanical experience to a near-perfect level can fairly easily be replicated by other car manufacturers in electric vehicles. The quietness and absence of vibration and the plushness of the passenger compartment, all things that set Rolls-Royce apart in the era of the internal combustion engine, will become increasingly irrelevant in the age of the EV. And what was luxury when cars were burning hydrocarbons will be available widely, for maybe a little bit extra.
It is, therefore, interesting to see what Rolls-Royce is thinking in terms of an EV and how it proposes to stay ahead in the race. And that was on show last week as the company unveiled its first fully-electric vehicle, Spectre. Interestingly, the company quotes one of the two founders of the company when it talks about EVs. Charles Stewart Rolls said in 1900: “The electric car is perfectly noiseless and clean. There is no smell or vibration. They should become very useful when fixed charging stations can be arranged.”
Back in the day, when the motor car was a new thing and technologies were competing with each other, the electric and internal combustion power trains were going head to head. Electrics were clean but cumbersome. IC was convenient and dirty and smoky. It was a toss-up — till Cadillac came up with the electric starter. Thereafter convenience ruled and the IC engine pulled away, ending meaningful EV research. And that is where Rolls-Royce cars really established themselves with their mechanical brilliance — that will soon be a thing of the past. But its halo will remain important.
For Rolls-Royce no lame duck EV will do. As the company puts it: “With Spectre, the marque confirms that the technology has reached a standard that can contain the Rolls-Royce experience. To that end, Rolls-Royce has confirmed that by the end of 2030 its entire product portfolio will be fully-electric.” That’s good news, and not just for Rolls-Royce buyers.
The RR Edge
Rolls-Royce from all appearances will be leaning quite heavily on customisation to give it an edge by creating personalised spaces and cars. It, expectedly, will also depend significantly on electronics to create the ownership and user experience from the ceiling night sky panel to the huge digital screen that is the dash and instrument cluster, all of which would now be tuned for individuals.
The underpinning will be the all aluminium and aerodynamics has reduced the drag coefficient to 0.25, which is a bit higher than the Mercedes Benz EQS’ 0.20. As for performance, it will have 576hp that is anticipated to achieve 0-60mph in 4.4 seconds.
The Spectre In Numbers
Number of doors/ seats: 2 / 4
LxBxH (mm): 5,453 x 2,080 x 1,559
Turning circle: 12.7m
Kerb weight: 2,975kg
Power consumption: 21.5kWh/ 100km
Electric range: 520km
Available for commission: Now
Client deliveries to start: Q42023
Pricing: Between Cullinan and Phantom