Perhaps one of the most recognizable names in the automotive realm, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars has been building extraordinary automobiles since the company’s inception more than 100 years ago. With advanced engineering, powerful engines and lavish interiors, the modern-day Rolls-Royce has no roadgoing peer. Today the luxury brand made a major announcement — by 2030 every Rolls-Royce vehicle will be fully electric, and the first step toward that electric future will arrive in 2023 as the Rolls-Royce Spectre.
Asserting that the all-electric Spectre could be momentous for the company might be an understatement. According to Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Chief Executive Officer Torsten Muller-Otvos, “Today is the most significant day in the history of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars since 4th May 1904. On that date, our founding fathers, Charles Rolls and Sir Henry Royce, first met and agreed that they were going to create ‘the best motor car in the world.’ Today, 117 years later, I am proud to announce that Rolls-Royce is to begin the on-road testing program for an extraordinary new product that will elevate the global all-electric car revolution. This is not a prototype . . . our clients will take first deliveries of the car in the fourth quarter of 2023,” enthused Muller-Otvos.
Originated with Charles Rolls
The goal of an electric Rolls-Royce is not new — Charles Rolls discussed the idea in 1900 after experiencing one of the first electric motor cars, the Columbia Electric Carriage. Rolls said, “The electric car is perfectly noiseless and clean. There is no smell or vibration, and they should become very useful when fixed charging stations can be arranged. But for now, I do not anticipate that they will be very serviceable — at least for many years to come.” Many years have passed, and its time has come.
An all-electric powertrain makes perfect sense for the Rolls-Royce brand. The company prides itself on building vehicles that run whisper quiet and smooth, possessing plenty of torque for strong performance — qualities commonly associated with electric powertrains.
In the past, the famed British marque has experimented with electric powertrains showcased in concept cars such as the 102EX. The 102EX — also known as the Phantom Experimental Electric — premiered at the Geneva Motor Show in 2011. Engineers replaced a 6.75-liter V12 and 6-speed automatic transmission with a lithium-ion battery pack and two electric motors mounted on the rear subframe. Combined output of the two motors was around 390 horsepower with 590 lb-ft of torque. The brand revealed the groundbreaking Rolls-Royce to gauge media and customer reaction, with the eventual possibility of incorporating an electric powertrain into the lineup.
About five years after introducing the 102EX, Rolls-Royce looked further to the future with the debut of the 103EX concept. With its futuristic design, the 103EX features a fully electric drivetrain as well as a completely autonomous driving experience via enhanced artificial intelligence. “These extraordinary products prompted a huge amount of interest in electric powertrain technology amongst our clients, “ said Muller-Otvos. “They considered it as the perfect fit for Rolls-Royce. And, over the past decade, I have been repeatedly asked . . . ‘When will you produce your first electric car?’ I answered with an unambiguous promise: ‘Rolls-Royce will go electric, starting this decade.’ Today, I’m keeping my word.”
The camouflaged vehicles Rolls-Royce has been being using for testing have a shape similar to the Wraith; however, the Spectre will be an all-new model, built on the brand’s proprietary aluminum architecture. These underpinnings were developed in 2016 for the new Phantom, and are the basis of the Cullinan and Ghost. Rolls-Royce engineers built this new platform with the idea that it could work with completely different powertrains — including electric.
Like the Phantom, Ghost and Wraith, the name Spectre suggests the supernatural. “Spectre is a name given to otherworldly beings synonymous with great power and apparition . . . It dominates the space it occupies. Then, as quickly as it appears, it dissipates, leaving a wake of exhilaration, energy, and intrigue,” says Muller-Otvos. “This name perfectly matches the extraordinary Rolls-Royce that we are announcing today — a motor car that makes its presence felt before disappearing into a world inaccessible to all but the very few,” noted the CEO.
Coming in 2023
In the coming months, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars will be releasing more photos and details pertaining to the Spectre. The final product is expected to begin arriving in the fourth quarter of 2023.