The car of choice for oil barons worldwide, the Rolls Royce isn’t the first name you’d associate with alternative energy. So heads turned when the luxury car manufacturer unveiled its prototype electric car at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show.
Rolls Royce’s one-off electric Phantom 102EX is every bit as luxurious as its petrol guzzling 12-cylinder counterparts, and has been built to see if there is an appetite for electric cars with the marque’s ultra rich clientele.
“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. That is why this project is so important,” stated Rolls Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös.
Instead of a 6.75-litre V12 petrol engine and 6-speed gearbox the Phantom 102EX uses a lithium ion battery pack – thought to be the largest ever fitted to a road car – and two electric motors producing no CO2 emissions. Instead of filling up at the pumps the car connects to a transfer pad on the ground through a groundbreaking induction charging system, meaning that unlike existing electric cars, the Rolls Royce charges without leads.
Tests show that for an electric car, the Phantom’s performance is impressive but not quite as meaty as its fossil-fuel counterpart:
- range of around 120 miles
- 0-60mph in under 8 seconds (compared with 5.7 seconds in a production Phantom)
- top speed of 100mph
It remains to be seen whether Rolls Royce owners will fall in love with an electric vehicle or if the compromises in performance are a step too far. It certainly shows, however, that alternative energy and green transport is no longer the preserve of eco fanatics and is being taken increasingly seriously in all quarters.