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.