A month ago rumors were circulating that maybe, possibly, Rolls Royce was developing an all-electric limo. At the time their CEO, Torsten Mueller-Oetvoes, suggested it might be a good idea and that “all options were on the table” but did not confirm the rumors. The rumors seemed unlikely as Rolls Royce isn’t exactly known for leading edge work. However, the company recently launched a new website, luxuryelectric.com, asking for public debate on the place of electric drive trains in the ultra-luxury cars they are known for.
Last Friday the company released an announcement confirming they’d built a one-off experimental car, dubbed the 102EX, and that it will be unveiled at the Geneva Auto Show on March 1, 2011.
A report by the Daily Mail quotes a Rolls-Royce spokesman saying: “Rolls-Royce produces cars that represent the pinnacle in luxurious motoring for the world’s most discerning customers. With 102EX, also known as the Phantom Experimental Electric (EE), it is the company’s intention to carefully test the opinions and reactions to alternative drive-train options of a range of stakeholders including owners, enthusiasts, members of the public and the media.”
On luxuryelectric.com they have posted a video by Mr. Mueller-Oetvoes saying he would “Like to ignite a debate about electric luxury”. He went on to ask, “is it a compromise or perfection” and he encourages “everyone” to take part in this debate. “Is electric and luxury in accordance, and is this the right answer in alternate drive trains in a Rolls Royce motorcar?”
This could be a tipping point moment similar to the development of the Tesla Roadster. Historically the stereotype of electric cars is the slow boring ugly golf cart. So long as it’s believed electric cars can only be slow, boring and ugly, nobody will want them. That meme led the Tesla Motors founders to develop an exciting snazzy looking electric sports car, specifically to blow up the myth and open the door for other sorts of electric vehicles. It may be that Rolls Royce, by developing an electric ultra-luxry vehicle, can blow up another electric car stereotype.
The truth is that there’s nothing about electric drive trains which prevent building an ultra-luxury vehicle. It’s simply a matter of a company like Rolls Royce to follow through with building one that befits their name. The electric drive train may even help, because the riders experience won’t be diminished by a stinky noisy gasoline engine.
Rolls-Royce to unveil luxury electric limousine that can run on 2p per mile (but could cost up to £1million to buy)
Rolls-Royce to show electric car at Geneva motor show
Rolls-Royce to display an electric Phantom concept