Rolls-Royce debuts all-electric Phantom at Geneva

Andross Moonah - CAP staff
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Tea and crumpets, rifles and clay pigeons, suits and bowler hats… What's the common theme here? All of these customs are British traditions, and all are examples of two elements that come together to create one enticing synergistic whole. Moreover, synergism is defined as a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. With this in mind, could all-electric power and resplendent luxury soon become another synergistic success from Britain? That's what Rolls-Royce Motor Cars would like to determine with its latest concept car, the 102EX - Phantom Experimental Electric (EE), or Phantom EE for short.

Making its debut at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show, the car is very interesting for a variety of reasons. Firstly, Rolls-Royce claims that the Phantom EE is the world's first ultra-luxury car to be battery electric powered. That's right, the enormous 6.75-litre V12 engine and 6-speed transmission are both absent. Replacing the conventional powertrain is a lithium ion battery pack and two electric motors, which are mounted onto the rear sub-frame of the car. Both electric motors are coupled to a single speed transmission which features an integrated differential.

In addition to the electric drivetrain, the Phantom EE is also interesting because unlike other concept cars, this one will actually be put into use by owners, VIPs, and the media. The Phantom EE will be the feature of a twelve month research program that will help Rolls-Royce determine if it should expand its offerings to include electric cars sooner rather than later. Research will be gathered from Europe, the Middle East, Asia and North America. While there are no plans to build a production version of the Phantom EE, the feedback gathered from this study will be critical to the development of alternative drivetrains at Rolls-Royce.

"Today, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars begins an exploration into alternative drive-trains, seeking clarity on which technology may be suitable to drive Rolls-Royce motor cars of the future," said Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös. "The alternative drive-train we choose must deliver an authentic Rolls-Royce experience. It must be a technology that is right for our customers, our brand and which sets us on a sound footing for a sustainable future. That is why this project is so important."

With that said, the Phantom EE is nonetheless typical of a normal Phantom; it's brimming with extravagant luxury. The luminous Atlantic Chrome paint is created by using ceramic nano particles that are 1,000 times smaller than a standard metallic paint particle. Sixteen coats of this unique 'nano-paint' were used, only four of which were Atlantic Chrome. The dashboard dials are finished in Atlantic Chrome as well, while the interior is shod in Corinova leather and wood veneer.

Rolls-Royce claims that the Phantom EE develops a maximum power output of 290kW (388 hp) and 800Nm (590 lb-ft) of torque. In comparison, a regular Phantom generates 338kW (453 hp) and 720Nm (531 lb-ft) of torque. A standard Phantom can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in approximately six seconds, but the Phantom EE manages this feat in a more relaxed eight seconds. In addition, the range of this concept Roller is just 200 kilometres. Despite the shortcomings, none of it should matter all that much since Rolls-Royce owners usually make only short trips around town.

Furthermore, an all-electric Rolls-Royce makes a ton of sense (or more accurately 3 tons of sense). While it's only natural that owners of sports cars, sport sedans, pick-up trucks and SUV's would want to hear the growl of their engines, a Rolls-Royce is different. Noise, no matter how good it sounds is in this case vulgar and intrusive, so it has no place in the lap of luxury. That's why an electric powertrain is ideal in an ultra-premium limousine like the Phantom. Unlike a normal gasoline engine, electric motors are relatively silent and they typically have 100-percent of their torque available immediately at takeoff. This underscores an ability to move quickly from a standstill, or quicker if the car is already at speed.

It may come as a surprise to learn that the British auto industry helped develop some of the earliest electric automobiles way back in the 1800s. Also interesting is the fact that Rolls-Royce co-founders Charles Rolls and Henry Royce both admired and respected the merits of the electric automobile. The Phantom EE concept could therefore be perceived as a blast from the past. Developed by a company that is itself a famous British synergy, Charles Rolls' and Henry Royce's Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.

While there are drawbacks to the electric powertrains of the present, it seems inevitable that electric power will one day become a very real part of the ultra-luxury segment. For more information about the Rolls-Royce Phantom EE, visit
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: EV, Luxury Sedan, Rolls-Royce, 2011, 102EX, Electric,

Organizations: Rolls-Royce

Geographic location: Geneva

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