Ford, Volvo, and Rolls Royce are just some of the automobile manufacturers that won’t be at the Paris auto show this year. Others include Aston Martin and Lamborghini. Volkswagen Group is also scaling back on how much it spends on the Paris show this year. Audi spent more than $11 million on a temporary pavilion, complete with indoor track, at the 2011 show in Frankfurt. The company will engage in no such high priced shenanigans for the Paris show this year.
Until now, the official position at Rolls Royce has been that electric cars are something for other companies to build. But the burden of new European Union emissions rules are forcing the staid old automaker (now owned by not-so-staid BMW) to rethink its position. Speaking to the press at the Frankfurt Motor Show, Torsten Muller-Otvos, head of the BMW division that owns Rolls Royce, said, “Suppose we find a battery technology that can offer ranges that are acceptable to our customers.” In that case, he told Automotive News, “I can definitely imagine a fully electric Rolls-Royce.”
That will be a neat trick, Torsten. A Rolls Royce weighs close to three tons and that’s before you load two people, all their luggage, a Sony, and a bottle of Grey Poupon into it. Moving that much bulk down the highway will require enough batteries for your typical Peterbilt. It can be done, of course. The Tesla Model X will have a gross vehicle weight rating of 6,300 lbs of so and can tow a 5,000 lb trailer as well (although, not very far.)
The big problem, as Rolls Royce sees it, is a woeful lack of charging infrastructure in the UK and on the Continent. That may change come 2017, according to Jean Pierre Diernaz, electric vehicle director of Nissan’s European unit. That’s when a “safety net” of charging networks will be in place, he says. But that’s a little optimistic, isn’t it, Jean Pierre?
Tesla has just announced that its destination chargers will soon be available across Europe. No other manufacturer has anything as ambitious as the Tesla SuperCharger network. It’s hard to image Rolls Royce customers will be content to run an extension cord out the window of their Motel 6 while they dine on caviar and champagne within.
If Rolls Royce ever builds an electric car, it will be years from now — at the earliest.
For some previous related coverage, be sure to see:
I’m fairly turned off to infographics these days, as many are simply a lot of colors and squiggly lines with little substance. However, some really good ones come across my desk from time to time. Thanks to a good friend, Amber Archangel, I’ve got a great one to share. The infographic was created for Car Leasing Made Simple, and is full of very interesting stats and charts about the top electric car countries and the top electric cars. Here’s the infographic, with more commentary below it:
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.
This Rolls-Royce inspired MINI Cooper was spotted in Hong Kong, and as weird as it might seem, it’s actually not that far fetched since BMW owns both Rolls Royce and Mini.
I like MINI Coopers, as they are super fun to drive, especially with the turbocharged engine and a drop top. It also works well as a city car, and while admittedly today’s Mini’s are not really all that mini, they are still a lot easier to drive through tight city streets, which China has plenty of. Indeed, MINI itself has toyed with the idea of a Goodwood-inspired MINI Cooper before, but this big bold Rolls-Royce grille is an unmistakable ripoff of the storied British brand.
Could we ever really see a Rolls-Royce the size of a MINI? It’s really not that crazy of an idea, as luxury automakers are racing to embrace greener, lighter, and yes even smaller cars. How can we forget the Aston Martin Cygnet, for example? Rolls recently began work on its next-generation Phantom, which will be lighter and offer a plug-in hybrid model. Is it so far fetched that an even smaller Rolls might one day roll off assembly lines?
Times, they are a-changin’.
Source: GT Spirit
Big, bold, British luxury car maker Rolls-Royce is putting the next-generation Phantom on a strict diet and plug-in hybrid workout plan. Image is everything after all, and these days it’s in vogue to at least look like you give a damn about the planet’s environmental woes.
Set to launch in three years, the next Rolls-Royce Phantom will look different, and offer both traditional V12 power and a plug-in hybrid drivetrain. The optional plug-in hybrid will likely slot above the powerful V12, if Rolls has any wit about them. The performance potential of a budget-be-damned plug-in hybrid luxury sedan, and such a car could make even the most adrant oil baron a believer in hybrid technology.
If Rolls wants to achieve even a modicum of efficiency though, the Phantom will have to go on a serious diet, as the current car comes in at a massive 5,710 pounds. Put an average couple in there, and you’re looking at a three-ton car…and this is with a lightweight aluminum space frame! Parent company BMW is said to be considering a carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) body shell to shed some of that excess weight. The Phantom is a prime candidate for CFRP, especially with BMW tripling output at its carbon fiber factory.
There’s also talk of a pure electric phantom, and with a drastic weight reduction, the next Phantom could dip below 5,000 pounds, not far from where the Tesla Model S sits. With a big-enough battery (made possible by a big price tag), an electric Rolls-Royce could make sense. Right now though, there are too many “ifs”, and with and plug-in hybrid model almost a certainty, I won’t hold my breath waiting for an electric Rolls.
Rolls Royce may have shelved the all-electric 102EX super sedan project it was working on a few years ago, but the decision to go electric may not be up to Rolls. Governments across Europe and China are pushing forward laws to limit the number of internal combustion cars allowed their streets, and some major cities in the UK, Norway, and China considering outright bans on non-hybrid cars. If Rolls Royce wants to stay relevant in a post-combustion world, then, it’s got to build a hybrid.
The real question here isn’t whether Rolls Royce will build a hybrid, then- it’s when.
The answer, oddly enough, is that it’s already building a hybrid- in the form of parent company BMW’s ActiveHybrid 7 series. The same 7 series, it should be noted, that serves as the basis for the Rolls Royce Ghost and Rolls Royce Wraith models. The Ghost and Wraith look like this …
… when they’re not wearing their BMW suits.
Assuming BMW decides to simply put a Rolls Royce Ghost body on their existing ActiveHybrid chassis (which would make a ton of sense, really), the hybrid Ghost will deliver some 320 HP between 5800 and 6000 RPM, along with a respectable 330 lb-ft of torque from 1300 to 4500 RPM. So, peak torque would be available from idle all the way to the shift in real-world driving. Not too far off from the old 6.75 liter Rolls engine of the 1970s-1990s, then, and with zero emissions in a “slow traffic gnarl” EV mode.
You can check out Rolls’ last entry into the EV fray- the 102EX concept car- below, as well as a cutaway drawing of the BMW ActiveHybrid 7 series that will, probably, end up under a Rolls Royce Ghost hybrid 24 hours after Beijing requires it. Enjoy!
Rolls Royce 102EX Plug In
BMW ActiveHybrid 7
Why would a company create a functioning electric car, only to announce they’ll never build it? You’d have to ask Rolls-Royce, as they have done just that with an all-electric version of their Rolls-Royce Phantom. Based on the Phantom ultra-luxury car, which was originally equipped with a V12 engine, window curtains, dining tables in the back, suicide doors, brisk acceleration, and much more, Rolls-Royce executives has stated this car will never see production…but that doesn’t make it any less cool.
This silent, smooth, prominent, and ultra-high end electric Rolls-Royce had many in awe back when it debuted at the 2011 Geneva Auto Show, and Rolls trotted the car back out recently to show off a new innovation; wireless charging. It is equipped with a 74 kWh battery bank (large enough to power 24 average American homes for one hour) that can be charged wirelessly with a Qualcomm system. Range is said to be around 120 miles, or about 200 kilometers, depending on how aggressively you drive.
Powering this 3.5 ton road behemoth is a 389 HP electric motor that generates 589 foot-pounds of torque, which is 59 ft-lbs more torque than the 6.8 liter V12 it was originally equipped with. That is enough torque to allow this huge luxury car to accelerate from 0-60 mphy mph in less than 8 seconds, which isn’t terribly fast compared to most cars. However, given the size of the Rolls Royce Phantom, that is downright respectable.
While a huge electric luxury car isn’t on everybody’s wish list, it’s nice to know it exists as a mobile test bed for a company better known for traditionalism than cutting-edge innovation. The wireless charging aspect is especially important, as this appears to be the direction many EV makers are taking. While Rolls is adamant this all-electric Phantom will never make it into production, perhaps one day a luxury EV of this magnitude might be worth making. After all, other luxury automakers, including Mercedes-Benz and Audi, are producing pure electric flagships of their own. So why not Rolls Royce as well?
Rolls-Royce buyers are different from most people. They don’t accept things like “compromise”, and that’s why representatives from Rolls-Royce have said their customers won’t accept a diesel version of the compny’s ultra-lux sedans. “A diesel has a lot of low-end torque,” said a source within the company. “But (Rolls’) customers are not going to cop it. It’s the perception of compromise. They wouldn’t entertain the idea. They said ‘absolutely not, don’t bring diesel anywhere near a Rolls-Royce, we won’t buy it’.”
Similar thinking has all but killed off the electric Rolls-Royce shown at Geneva in 2011, and boosted ultra-luxury sales in recent years to the point that other super-luxury marques are looking to Volkswagen platforms to add capacity in hopes of meeting the world’s “pent up” demand for six-figure sedans SUVs.
Think about that (and maybe this jackass) the next time gas prices impact your weekend plans.
Source | Photos: Autocar.
It could be argued that, since the dawn of the 21st Century, no car has screamed “new money” louder than Volkswagen’s Bentley Continental coupes (yeah, they’re built off the Volkswagen Phaeton platform – sorry to be the one to break it to you). That might not be a fair statement to make about a single car, but I think Bentley’s management knows the score, and sees a need to make some pretty massive changes to their product line if they intend to remain relevant in the coming decades.
Bentley has begun those changes by introducing the car you see above: the new-for-2013 (model year) Bentley Continental V8. This new model features a relatively high-strung, twin-turbo V8 engine in place of the “standard” Conti’s massive, loping 12-cylinder. Bentley flacks promise that the “new” V8 (which shares over 90% of its parts with the V8 found in Volkswagen’s Touareg SUV) will deliver just as much power as the W12, and still be good enough to move the Continental’s hefty mass from naught to 60 mph in under 5 seconds … all while giving back 40% more fuel efficiency.
That 40% is a huge gain, and the new Conti, though decadent, still serves to help VW meet the increasingly stringent CAFE and TUV standards in (what are still) the brand’s primary markets. Besides that, VW execs probably concluded (quite correctly, in my opinion) that most Bentley buyers have don’t care what’s under the hood, anyway, as long as their gussied-up Volkswagen still turns heads.
SO, moving past the jaded cynicism and (I’ll admit) general crankiness that I feel towards Bentley at the moment (they really should have stuck with high-horsepower Ethanol beasties, I think) the new Conti is a step forward from the Piech-era W12 and is – by all accounts – a solid performer. British magazine Autocar got a chance to test one of the new cars prior to its debut last week, and shared their take on the new Conti in the video, below.
It remains to be seen whether the world will embrace a cleaner, friendlier
Volkswagen Bentley Continental that doesn’t pack more punch than the more decadent version – but get used to that VW/Audi-derived V8 … because that engine, along with the Touareg/Q7 chassis, will form the basis for Bentley’s upcoming SUV – which we’ve covered before on Gas 2 and which seems to have been all-but-confirmed by Bentley staff at this week’s Detroit Auto Show.
One Bentley built for MPG and another built to haul kids to soccer practice and ballet recitals, built by GERMANS on a “people’s car” platform!? Poor Walter O. must be spinning in his grave at about 9000 rpm by now, which gives me an idea for a new type of “gas free” electrical generator …
Remember those years before 2008, when all the cool kids drove around in jacked-up 4×4 Hummers? The boys at British luxury brand Bentley sure do, and (in the spirit of sincere, environmental responsibility) they’ve confirmed to Auto Motor und Sport that they’re cooking up a new, massively expensive, 3 ton (!) SUV.
Why, you ask?
To make more money, of course! Business is booming for ultra-lux auto brands like Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Bentley’s cross-town rivals, Rolls Royce (Rolls’ sales are up 64% this year) and Bentley wants to make sure they grab as much cash as they can while the grabbing is good – and SUVs are the most profitable game in the automotive town.
So, what’s this new, uber utility vehicle from Bentley doing on a green car blog? It’s worth noting that Bentley didn’t tell Auto Motor und Sport about any new KERS or plug-in or flex-fuel engine “destined” for use in their new SUV – they just promised big, luxury, and expensive.
Maybe green isn’t the new fast, after all … or maybe Bentley just knows its market?
Expect the line to form behind the Saudi princes.
Source | Rendering: Auto Motor und Sport.
Rolls-Royce is known for building some of the quietest cars on the road. Unfortunately for Rolls, however, another carmaker is stealing headlines for its automotive quietness … and it’s not one of Rolls’ usual suspects, like Maybach or Bentley. No – the ultra-quiet cars in question come from Toyota, Nissan, and Chevrolet, who have been grabbing media attention with their silent-running hybrid electrics models. Indeed, even highly-respected sources like Scientific American are asking whether these new EVs and hybrids are too quiet to be considered safe around pedestrians.
Clearly, Rolls-Royce needed to act – and act they have! The company has announced that they’ll be bringing a fully-electric 102EX Phantom to next month’s Geneva Motor Show, to “gather a bank of research data which will be crucial in informing future decisions on alternative drivetrains.”
In other words: Rolls-Royce wants to see how many they can sell before they commit to building the things … which is fine by me! If I were in the market for an ultra-smooth, ultra-quiet vehicle to be shuttled around from home to work in (and possibly the opera? Do rich people go to the opera?) I couldn’t think of a better option than an EV.
Rolls-Royce is expected to release full specifications for their new 102EX Phantom on March 1st.
Source: Rolls-Royce, via Wired’s Autopia.
During a quick conversation I had with Richard Carter, Rolls-Royce’s Director of Global Communications, at the LA Auto Show this afternoon, he confirmed to me that rumors Rolls is working on an electric luxury car are true, and that it is quite possible that the release will happen within the next year—although initially it would be restricted to a few test cars to gauge interest.
You know electric cars are serious when even Rolls Royce is considering ditching fossil fuel for electrons. The maker of luxury cars renowned the world over for their opulence is seriously considering having an electric version of its luxo-bargo Phantom on the road as early as next year… just in time for the 2012 Olympics being held in its native London.
But will an electric Rolls work?
At the Eco-Aviation Conference in Washington, Air New Zealand’s Chief Pilot Captain David Morgan announced the company’s findings on a test flight from last December. Powered by a combination of biofuel and jet fuel, the test resulted in a fuel savings of 1.2%. It also cut CO2 emissions by over 60%!
While a 1.2% fuel savings doesn’t seem like much, that is over 1 ton of fuel!
The test was conducted using a commercial 747-400 fitted with Rolls Royce engines. Rolls Royce had certified the fuel — a 50:50 blend of standard Jet A1 fuel and synthetic paraffinic kerosene derived from jatropha oil.
Rolls Royce and British Airways cannot find 15,000 gallons of biofuels for intensive ground testing that meets volume, sustainability, and performance criteria.
Due to lack of biofuels supply, the companies have suspended their testing program. Rolls Royce planned to test four alternative fuels on a RB211 engine taken from one of British Airway’s Boeing 747 aircraft, but only three responses were issued from worldwide tenders. Only one of the three responses said it could meet the sustainability criteria (be produced without a detrimental impact on food, land or water), but the tender could not deliver enough biofuel supply to conduct long-term testing. According to Green Air Online: