Rolls-Royce unveiled the exterior design of the Rolls-Royce Spectre, the British luxury automaker’s first battery-electric car.
As TheDetroitBureau.com reported in March, it’s the start of a monumental shift as the brand expects to be all electric by 2030, a move that mirrors most of the world’s automakers.
While Rolls-Royce co-founder Charles Rolls bought a Columbia Electric car in 1900, and predicted an electric future for automobiles, the fact that Rolls-Royce is finally manufacturing one is a transformative event for a company that sold a mere 5,586 vehicles worldwide in 2021, the most in the company’s 117-year history.
“Our first fully-electric model, is silent, powerful and demonstrates how perfectly Rolls-Royce is suited to electrification,” said Torsten Müller-Ötvös, chief executive officer, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. “Spectre’s all-electric powertrain will assure the marque’s sustained relevance while dramatically increasing the definition of each characteristic that makes a Rolls-Royce a Rolls-Royce.”
Of course, Rolls-Royce vehicles were always known for their silence; it’s the reason that from the start, their cars had spectral names.
A new design owes much to the past
For their first ethereal electric automobile, company designers wrapped its newest technology in a familiar coupe form. While the automaker’s marketing materials make much of the fact that designers took their inspiration for the Spectre from haute couture, modernist sculpture, nautical design, tailoring and contemporary art, most observers will take one glance and see that most of its appearance owes much to the Rolls-Royce Wraith. But Rolls-Royce has always been a fairly conservative automaker, so this is in keeping with the brand’s tradition.
Still, it does have some notable differences that distinguish it as truly new. It has the widest grille ever placed on a Rolls-Royce. It’s also angled, featuring smoother vanes with a flusher fit to improve airflow. Even the Spirit of Ecstacy was wind-tunnel tested for 830 hours; that’s 103 eight-hour days. But it all paid off. With a drag co-efficient of 0.25cd, the Spectre is Rolls-Royce’s most aerodynamic car ever built.
Its form is built with the largest body panel ever used on a Rolls-Royce, extending from the A-pillar to the trunk. And the Spectre is shod with 23-inch wheels, the first in nearly 100 years.
The inside story
If modern Rolls-Royce vehicles are known for anything, it’s their fiber optic illuminated headliner. For the Spectre, Rolls-Royce will offer Starlight Doors, which incorporate 4,796 softly illuminated “stars.” Similarly, the Spectre’s illuminated fascia uses more than 5,500 “stars” to frame the car’s nameplate on the instrument panel.
Other trim options include the use of Canadel wood paneling on the Spectre’s rear-hinged doors, the trim being named after a cove in Southern France where Sir Henry Royce spent his winters.
While Rolls-Royce didn’t provide any images of the new coupe’s interior, it would merely representative, as it can be customized through the company’s bespoke program. However, the Spectre’s digital architecture, named Spirit, can be customized as well, allowing for bespoke clients to match the color of the dials to a particular cabin color.
A new electric vehicle architecture
Rolls-Royce views the Spectre as the beginning of “Rolls-Royce 3.0,” with the Phantom’s premiere in 2003 at the company’s new Goodwood plant serving as Rolls-Royce 1.0. The Phantom, Cullinan, Ghost and Coachbuild were then launched using Rolls-Royce 2.0, a new all-aluminum spaceframe architecture.
The Spectre uses the latest architecture to come from Rolls-Royce, one designed for electrification. It integrates the battery into the car’s structure, making it 30% stiffer than any previous Rolls-Royce.
The car incorporates what the company describes as the latest the latest software and hardware to deliver the renowned Rolls-Royce ride. It can decouple the anti-roll bars allowing each wheel to act independently when it encounters road imperfections. When cornering, 18 sensors are scrutinized, and steering, braking, power delivery and suspension parameters are regulated to maintain stability.
It’s all powered by a 430-kW powertrain (585 horsepower) that produces 900 Nm, or 664 pound-feet, of torque. That’s enough to generate a 0-60 mph in 4.4 seconds, or 0-100 kph in 4.5 seconds, according to Rolls-Royce. That’s impressive for a car that’s 214.7 inches long, 81.8 inches wide, and 61.4 inches tall and weighing 6,559 pounds. Its estimated range is expected to be 320 miles in the European WLTP cycle, although EPA testing will generate lower estimates.
The Spectre is expected to launch in about a year, in the fourth quarter of 2023. Until then, the car continues to be tested, simulating more than 400 years of use for a Rolls-Royce. That would be more than 1.6 million miles.
While the company didn’t announce pricing, it will be positioned between the $351,250 Cullinan and $460,000 Phantom.