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.
The car would be based on Rolls’ iconic Phantom and may have a range of up to 100 miles, although Mr. Carter said that for the average Rolls customer, 50 to 60 miles range per day would probably suffice. “The nature and style of an electric drive suits Phantom very much,” he said. “First of all it’s quiet, second it has huge amounts of low-end torque, thirdly, on the whole—this is not always true—but on the whole Phantoms don’t go great distances.”
For a Phantom owner, range isn’t hugely critical, and therefore range anxiety would be minimal—most Phantoms are driven less than 6,000 miles per year. The car, as Mr. Carter put it, is “of a certain size”—meaning there’s lots of room in it to put the batteries and not compromise on roominess and cargo capacity. It also weighs about 3,000 pounds, and the added weight of the batteries is rather small compared to the overall weight. And when you’re talking about an ultra luxury car, the added cost of a battery will be barely noticeable in the overall purchase price.
For Rolls Royce, adding an electric Phantom to their line up not only seems like a natural fit, it may actually bring in a new type of customer… The type that has money to burn but is also very focused on environmental issues—the Hollywood crowd, for instance, who, according to Carter, are not typically interested in owning a Rolls at the moment.
I don’t know about you, but I’d love to be able to test drive an electric Rolls Royce. Even though I’m dedicated to illuminating my little part of the green automotive realm, there’s always the part of me that lusts after ridiculously lavish toys.