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Geneva show: Latest EV is a high Roller

Electric Rolls: Phantom 102EX is the iconic brand's first foray into the electric car arena.

Rolls-Royce experimental vehicle takes electric power into the ultra-luxury segment

21 Feb 2011

ICONIC British luxury car brand Rolls-Royce has jumped on to the electric vehicle bandwagon with an experimental vehicle based on the current Phantom.

Rolls-Royce will officially introduce the 102EX – also known as the Phantom Experimental Electric (EE) – at the Geneva motor show on March 1.

Although the BMW-owned company said there are no plans for a production version, the one-off prototype will tour the world this year as a test bed, promotional tool and technological showcase.

It is expected to be one of the centrepieces of BMW’s sponsorship of the 2012 London Olympics, where fleets of low-emissions vehicles will be used to transport athletes and VIPs to venues around the city.

Officially, the company said the electric-powered Phantom will serve to gather a bank of research data that will be crucial in informing future decisions on alternative drive-trains for Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.

Unofficially, a company insider said the near-silence of electric propulsion, and the fact that full torque is available from a standstill, would align perfectly with Rolls-Royce’s core values.

50 center imageAs well as being even quieter than a regular Phantom – it may even live up to the old claim that the loudest thing you hear cruising in a Rolls is the clock ticking – an electric Roller would address the issues of tough inner-city CO2 legislation and circumvent any possible future ban on big-engined saloons in urban areas.

Rolls-Royce is understood to be keen to push electric technology as far as it can go and company CEO Torsten Muller-Otvos claims the 102EX is the world’s first battery electric vehicle for the ultra-luxury segment.

“With this vehicle, we begin an exploration into alternative drivetrains, seeking clarity on which alternative technologies may be suitable to drive Rolls-Royce motor cars of the future,” he said from the company’s headquarters in the UK.

“I must be convinced that any alternative drivetrain we choose for the future delivers 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.” Rolls-Royce said the 102EX a global tour this year will take in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and North America, providing the company with feedback on the alternative drivetrain option from owners, enthusiasts, members of the public and the media.

Mr Muller-Otvos said the experimental vehicle would serve to begin a dialogue with existing owners and stakeholders, posing as well as answering questions of its audience, including its ability to deliver an acceptable range and to operate in extreme weather conditions, as well as benchmark reliability and quality against customer expectations.

This week, the company launched a website (www.electricluxury.com) ahead of the Geneva launch, designed to fuel a global debate on the question of electric luxury as well as deliver regular updates of the 102EX’s progress while on tour.

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