Aerospace giant Rolls-Royce Holdings appears to be on the right path to net zero, but that has been a different story for another company, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, the automaker known as the drive of choice for the UK royal family, successful entrepreneurs and others with money to spend. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars has long resisted electric vehicle (EV) technology, but it finally looks set to give zero-emission mobility a new spin.
It’s not your father’s electric car … it’s your child’s
Rolls-Royce Motor Cars was founded in 2005, after BMW beat Volvo and othis suitors for the rights to manufacture cars under the ultra-exclusive luxury brand with a worldwide reputation for satisfying the most demanding tastes.
The battle for the Rolls-Royce brand really began in 1998, just when GM was struggling (and failing) to find a market for its revolutionary electric car EV-1. Among other factors, in the 1990s, electric vehicle batteries were considerably less than perfect, with long charge times, high costs, and low range being the main hurdles. GM launched the car in 1996 and stopped producing it in 1999.
The EV-1 experience may have prompted Rolls-Royce superiors to ignore advanced electric drive technology and stick to tradition. After all, if EV technology was far from perfect, why would Rolls-Royce customers care?
The company tested the waters in 2011 when it introduced an all-electric version of the Phantom, at a motor show. However, he disavowed any intention to put the vehicle into production, citing the inconvenience of long charging times as one of the factors.
Rolls-Royce Motor Cars also set the internet on fire in 2017, when it built and donated one electric car for children in a British hospital. In an interesting twist, the toy car was intended to be a therapeutic device, helping to reduce preoperative stress by allowing children to drive themselves in the hallways. Try this with a gasoline engine!
Rolls-Royce Motor Cars misses the opportunity of electric vehicles
On the flip side, at least one auto entrepreneur learned a different lesson from the EV-1 debacle. It was, of course, Elon Musk, who introduced his first fully electric car in 2008 through the startup Tesla Motors that he co-founded. Rather than producing an affordable electric vehicle for the masses, Tesla launched its first model, the Roadster, as an exclusive and expensive sports car suitable for auto enthusiasts who value advanced technology and innovation. It cost over $ 100,000 and the first set of 500 vehicles sold out quickly.
Not to glorify Musk himself – after all, his performance on various measures of business responsibility who goes from mixed with gloomy – but the emphasis on innovation and performance has lifted all EV boats. In 2010, Tesla received a major grant from the Department of Energy aimed at producing affordable electric vehicles on a large scale, based on its success with the Roadster. This key endorsement from government decision-makers has provided US automakers with key support at the federal level to adopt electric vehicle technology.
Since 2010, the cost of EV batteries has dropped like a stone and the technology has improved dramatically. Along with an ever-growing group of other electric vehicle startups, traditional automakers in the United States and elsewhere have also started formulating plans for an all-electric future. Including VEs equipped with fuel cells, which generate electricity from a reaction between hydrogen and oxygen.
Also included in the all-electric mix luxury brands like Jaguar. While not as exclusive as Rolls-Royce, the Jaguar name builds on a reputation for quality and performance, at a price.
The best of both worlds for Rolls-Royce and BMW?
In 2020, BMW critics questioned the company’s failure to develop nut soup, dedicated electrification strategy. Some were eager to see BMW agree to part ways with Rolls-Royce, in order to focus more energy on electrification for the mass market. They also argue that the spin-off would allow Rolls-Royce to reaffirm its ultra-exclusive title, citing the successful example of Ferrari.
It looks like BMW is determined to have it both ways. In recent weeks, Rolls-Royce launched its Coachbuild service, which raises the bar of automotive perfectionism by offering “an extraordinary design collaboration between patron and craftsman”.
In the meantime, Rolls-Royce’s 2017 all-electric Phantom tease wasn’t just a tease, after all.
At the time, the CEO of Rolls-Royce Torsten Müller-TVöits confirmed that hybrid electric cars would never get off the company’s assembly lines. However, this commentary was only a precursor to the main thrust of his main point. Muller-TVösa explained that 100% electrification was the wave of the future, that is to say in several years. In 2017, he explained, the technology was not yet up to Rolls Royce’s exacting standards.
Apparently, a lot has changed over the past four years, including a growing number of countries and local governments planning to restrict the sale or use of conventional gasoline cars. Earlier this year, Rolls-Royce confirmed it was working on a all-electric version of its Shadow line, which would be called “Silent Shadow”.
In a recent interview with Bloomberg Television, Müller-TVösa describes how zero-emission electrical technology complements the company’s brand identity.
“Electrification is perfect for Rolls-Royce – it’s torquey, it’s super quiet,” he told Bloomberg. “We’re not known for the roar of engines and exhaust noises, and that’s a big plus.”
The importance of a very expensive electric vehicle
The announcement of an all-electric Rolls-Royce is significant as it helps cement zero-emission technology into the popular imagination as a mature form of automotive engineering, worthy of attention from companies reputed to offer. the ultimate. automotive experience.
On the other hand, an electric car model may not seem like a big deal. This is not the case, at least in terms of raw numbers. The iconic Silver shadow, for example, is known as Rolls-Royce’s best-selling passenger car, and it produced a total of just 38,000 units in its 11 years of operation from 1955 to 1966.
On the other hand, Tesla’s all-electric Model S has sold more than 250,000 units since its introduction in 2012, and other automakers plan to introduce millions of their own zero-emission vehicles in the near future.
However, Coachbuild could be the secret weapon in Rolls-Royce’s sleeve.
Given Coachbuild’s collaborative identity, it’s only a matter of time before someone with deep pockets and a passion for electric cars takes advantage of the new service.
Like the Roadster before it, the new all-electric Rolls-Royce Shadow could be the rising tide that will lift all boats even higher in the EV market of the future.
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