Rolls-Royce unveils Spectre: a production-bound electric coupe

Rolls-Royce has formally announced plans to introduce a battery-electric coupe. Dubbed Spectre, the British super-luxe automaker’s first EV will begin deliveries in late 2023, which has now become a key milestone in Rolls-Royce’s roadmap to full electrification by the end of the decade.

Apart from the name and layout, Rolls is being stingy with specifics, telling us only that, despite what appears to be a somewhat familiar silhouette, this is an all-new model built on the company’s latest architecture, like Phantom, Ghost and Cullinan. Spectre is not merely a derivative of the Wraith, RR says.

And with good reason, because Wraith was engineered around the essence of its V12. Spectre’s character, we expect, will be defined by its near-silent, vibration-free electric powertrain, which makes for a very different acoustic backdrop, but that’s a challenge Rolls-Royce engineers are prepared – arguably even predestined – to overcome.

Even more than a century ago, both Charles Rolls and Sir Henry Royce were fascinated by electric powertrains. The automaker even shared some of Rolls’ impressions of an EV he drove in April 1900 from Connecticut-based manufacturer Columbia: 

“The electric car is perfectly noiseless and clean,” he noted. “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.”

“Today, 117 years later, I am proud to announce that Rolls-Royce is to begin the on-road testing programme for an extraordinary new product that will elevate the global all-electric car revolution and create the first – and finest – super-luxury product of its type,” said Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös. 

“Charles Rolls’ prophecy has been the subject of constant consideration during the marque’s Goodwood era,” he said. “But we have not been satisfied that available technology could support the Rolls-Royce experience. Until now.”

If there’s any coherent theme to the message coming from Rolls-Royce, it’s that the company intends to do right by its first EV. To that end,it  says it will develop Spectre “in plain sight,” holding it to some of the most stringent development requirements of any vehicle that has carried the Spirit of Ecstasy. 

“To do this, we have conceived the most demanding testing programme in Rolls-Royce’s history. We will cover 2.5 million kilometres – a simulation of more than 400 years of use for a Rolls-Royce, on average – and we will travel to all four corners of the world to push this new motor car to the limit,” Müller-Ötvös said. “This is not a prototype. It’s the real thing.” 

That’s all Rolls-Royce has for us, at least for the time being, but if the above promise is to be believed, we expect to see plenty more of the Spectre before it’s ready for prime time. Stay tuned. 

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