Rolls-Royce says its recently launched Phantom VIII will likely spawn the brand’s first electric vehicle, but the Goodwood, UK-based company isn’t ready to commit to a specific timeline, saying only that it will happen during the new car’s lifespan.
And Rolls boss Torsten Müller-Ötvös wants us to know the company is not taking lightly the possibility of a Phantom without a stonking V12 under its broad hood. He says the change will likely be dictated by future bans on combustion engines, such as those pitched in London, France, the Netherlands, and Norway. India and Germany are mulling similar legislation.
That will be the prime motivation for an electric Roller, according to Müller-Ötvös, who admitted to Australian magazine CarAdvice the demand for a Rolls EV isn’t there: “I haven’t seen a single cheque arriving on my desk saying, ‘Build me one.’”
Still, Rolls says it is not interested in “interim steps” like a hybrid that would pair electric motors with a gas engine.
We got a good idea of what an electric Phantom would look like when the company showed its 102EX electric concept in Geneva in 2011. That car replaced the Phantom’s V12 with a lithium-ion battery and electric motors that Rolls said were good for about 200 km of range and an 8.0-second sprint from zero to 100 km/h. The way EV technology is going, a future production Phantom EV would do far better.
Certainly, an electric Phantom would help the car fulfill is mandate of offering the world’s quietest cabin by eliminating a prime source of noise and vibration, as hard as Rolls has worked to make the Phantom’s V12 as smooth and silent as possible.
But Müller-Ötvös remains adamant that Rolls will resist autonomous vehicle technology as long as it can, even though its parent company, BMW, is pouring R&D dollars into turning its models into self-drivers.
“It all depends on the progress of the development side,” he said, “When it is right, [it will be] advanced enough that it is a really effortless experience for customers… not needing to keep your finger on the steering wheel.”