Rolls-Royce has announced that its first battery-electric vehicle will start deliveries in the fourth quarter of 2023. Called the Spectre, Rolls-Royce’s first EV is the start of the brand’s move toward full electrification, something it aims to complete by 2030. Electric power isn’t a new concept to the Rolls-Royce brand because one of its co-founders, Charles Rolls, was one of the first to own an EV when he took ownership of a vehicle called the Columbia in 1900. Sir Henry Royce, the other co-founder of the company, was also fascinated by all things electric. One of Royce’s first business ventures, F.H. Royce and Company created dynamos, electric crane motors, and light bulb fittings. It is only now that the company has found that the technology has advanced enough to transition. The Rolls-Royce Spectre is the first of a range of new EVs for the company.
Rolls-Royce has been experimenting with electric propulsion for the last few years. It revealed its first prototype in 2011, an all-electric Phantom dubbed the 102EX or Phantom EE. That model was used as a test bed for designers and engineers to gain knowledge and feedback from VIPs, existing Rolls-Royce clients, enthusiasts, and media regarding how an all-electric Rolls-Royce model should be like. Unfortunately, the long charging times and short battery life were considered deal breakers for the type of consumer buying a super luxurious vehicle of this type.
Five years later, the 103EX or Vision NEXT 100 Concept followed to preview what the brand’s next generation of all-electric models could look like. The new Rolls-Royce Spectre is the culmination of this development. “We embark on this bold new future with a huge advantage. Electric drive is uniquely and perfectly suited to Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, more so than any other automotive brand,” said Torsten Müller-Ötvös, CEO of Rolls-Royce. “It is silent, refined, and creates torque almost instantly, going on to generate tremendous power. This is what we at Rolls-Royce call ‘waftability.’”
Ahead of its official on-sale date in late 2023, Rolls-Royce will be testing the Spectre on public roads. It will be put through the company’s most rigorous testing regiment, which will cover over 2.5 million kilometers, an equivalent of around 1.5 million miles, and simulate over 400 years of use. “You will see these test cars on roads around the world. Look out for them — they will be in plain sight,” said Müller-Ötvös. “They will be tested in all conditions and over all terrains on their multi-million-mile journey — that will literally accelerate Rolls-Royce into the future.”
Like the aluminum-intensive architecture underpinning the current Phantom, Ghost, and Cullinan, the Spectre will use a Rolls-Royce exclusive platform. Its underpinnings were made to accommodate different types of powertrains ranging from internal combustion engines to battery-electric.
The name Spectre was chosen to highlight the vehicle’s status as an ultraluxury model. Additionally, it also hints at the car’s quick but silent acceleration thanks to its battery-electric powertrain. This also puts it right in line with the rest of Rolls-Royce’s naming scheme, which includes Phantom, Ghost, and Wraith. Past Rolls-Royce models that used names inspired by the supernatural include the Silver Spirit, Silver Shadow, and Silver Seraph.
Over 100 years after Charles Rolls bought his EV, the company he co-founded has made one of his and Sir Henry Royce’s dreams a reality. With the Rolls-Royce Spectre, the ultraluxury segment has started its transition to full electrification. Alongside parent company BMW Group, the brand will be among the first to leave internal combustion behind as it leverages electric powertrains to strengthen its heritage for incredibly opulent cars.