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Surprise? Electric Rolls Royce Is Not Happening

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On: Fri, Jun 10, 2011 at 3:37PM | By: Chris Weiss


Surprise? Electric Rolls Royce Is Not Happening

At the Geneva Motor Show this past March, Rolls Royce made a rather strong impression with the 102EX, an electric ultra-premium. The move made some wonder whether Rolls may just cut its otherwise atrocious fuel economy numbers with a fully electric production version. At the time, Rolls would commit only to the fact that it would test the waters for an EV's potential. Apparently, those waters turned up pretty chilly, because Rolls has moved an EV off the table for the time being.

According to anAuto Evolution report based on a conversation with CEO Torsten Mueller-Otvos, Rolls has officially sidelined the EV because it doesn't believe that it makes sense at the moment. It's not so much that customers aren't interested in a premium EV, or that there was a tepid reaction to the 102EX, it's that Rolls doesn't think an EV fits its customer base very well.

While the 102EX's nickel-cobalt-manganese battery's quoted range of 125 miles wasn't bad—especially considering that it's a big, heavy Rolls Royce—it isn't exactly a robust number that allows for much travel. And since Rolls identifies its customer base as one that lives far away from the cities where it works and plays—you know, on big sprawling estates—Rolls doesn't believe that an EV will be a practical or desirable car for its core. Essentially, it just doesn't give off a strong business case.

Interestingly, Rolls Royce's reasoning leaves open the possibility of a future EV. It's not that there isn't interest in building one, and it's not that there hasn't been a strong reaction from possible customers; it basically just boils down to the technology not being there. Once batteries can offer increased ranges, don't be surprised if Rolls revisits a 102EX-type electric saloon.

For now, though, Rolls seems to be more interested in other types of green vehicles, admitting that a hybrid would make more sense in the current economic and technological environment. While there's no confirmation of such a car in development, we wouldn't be surprised to see one in the next couple of years as automakers around Europe try to cut their fleet emissions.




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