In just five years of stewardship, BMW has quadrupled sales of the Rolls-Royce brand, which is in the process of engineering a next generation of super-luxury vehicles. There had been talk of building an all-electric or diesel model to comply with European emissions standards, but those plans have been dropped in favor of a BMW-sourced hybrid drivetrain, reports AutoCar.
The Rolls-Royce 102EX prototype was the automaker’s first jab at an all-electric rolls with a sizable 71 kWh battery pack and a pair of 145 kW electric motors that spun out nearly 400 horsepower and 599 lb-ft of torque back in 2011. But during a twelve-month world tour, not a single customer expressed interest in an uber-luxury sedan with limited range and a long charging time.
Customer tastes also killed off a potential diesel Rolls-Royce, despite the fact that it would have been a cost effective means of meeting European emissions standards. Instead, Rolls will adopt a plug-in hybrid drivetrain from parent company BMW for both the next-generation Phantom and the not-yet-named SUV model. There is however the possibility of using carbon fiber to make bespoke models for interested buyers, using the same super-limited edition model Bugatti has popularized.
Customer tastes might seem like a silly reason to kill a car, but for a company that is on pace to sell a record-breaking 4,000 cars this year, every customer counts. Yet those 4,000 customers will net Rolls an estimated profit of £500 million, or about $813 million this year, a profit of about $200,000 per car they sell.
When customers are paying that much of a premium for a car, you can’t do enough to make them happy. That means no diesel and no electric Rolls for now, leaving plug-in hybrids to lead the way forward for the legendary luxury automaker.