Rolls-Royce has fulfilled a two-year-old promise in Geneva by unveiling a battery-powered Phantom experimental model, code-named 102EX, which it says will be “crucial in in forming future decisions on alternative powertrains”. According to Rolls CEO, Torsten Muller-Otvos, the Goodwood-built car is the world’s first battery electric vehicle for the ultra-luxury segment. After Geneva, it will go on a world tour of major markets during the rest of 2011, “seeking clarity on which alternative technologies may be suitable to drive Rolls-Royce motor cars of the future”.
Rolls owners, enthusiasts and members of the public in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and North America will be invited to test drive 102EX, and their opinions will be carefully canvassed and recorded. Muller-Otvos says that while there are no direct plans to put an electric Phantom into production, the car will help find answers to important questions, such as what constitutes an acceptable cruising range between battery charges, and whether a battery Rolls could operate in extremes of weather. It will also test the reliability and quality expectations of the world’s most demanding car buyers.
“We have to be convinced any future alternative drivetrain delivers an authentic Rolls-Royce experience,” says Muller-Otvos. “We must choose technology that is right for our customers and brand, which puts us on a sound footing for a sustainable future.” The launch fulfils a promise made a little over two years ago by former CEO Tom Purves, who revealed that the near-silence of electric propulsion and the fact that full torque is available from standstill in electric cars, would align “perfectly” with Rolls’s core values.
To support the 102EX’s arrival, Rolls-Royce has launched a special website, www.electricluxury.com <http://www.electricluxury.com> , to promote global debate. The site will deliver regular updates about the car’s progress on tour.