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Rolls rolling down Electric Avenue

2011-02-21 07:16

WORTH THE CHARGE: This image of a battery-range indicator featuring on the new 102EX’s instrumentation is the only clue Rolls-Royce has released as to the configuration and styling of its experimental electric car.

Ultra-uxury automotive brand, Rolls-Royce will soon launch a campaign to evaluate the viability of an electric limousine.

The poster car for Rolls-Royce’s alternative-propulsion campaign will be the 102EX, an experimental battery-powered Phantom set to be shown on the company’s stand at the 2011 Geneva auto show during the first week of March.

Why is Rolls-Royce spending time and money on a battery-powered limousine when most of its customers cannot be bothered with the variable monthly running expense of powering a vehicle with traditional fossil fuels?

Well, seeing as Rolls-Royce is part of BMW, good corporate governance, fleet emissions targets and environmental policy all weigh in with a share of influence to force the world’s most luxurious car brand to investigate alternatives to traditional petrol powered engines.

FIRST OF ITS KIND IN CLASS

After its Geneva debut the 102EX will go on a global ride-'n-drive tour, allowing customers in Rolls-Royce’s European, Middle Eastern, Asian and North American markets the opportunity to drive a battery limo.

Rolls' CEO Torsten Muller-Otvos says his company’s Goodwood-built battery Phantom is the world’s first all-electric vehicle in the premium luxury segment.

The 102EX’s role is to help Roll-Royce engineers and product planning personnel understand which electric drivetrain characteristics are reconcilable with traditional driving experience expectations from the brand’s customers.

Although the idea of an environmentally aware bout of Rolls-Royce product planning would seems at odds with the company’s grandeur and customer profile, the tangible benefits of electric drive nestle very close to the brand’s core engineering values. Former Rolls-Royce boss Tom Purves believed that electric drive would offer near-silent operation and instantaneous maximum torque, both characteristics Roll-Royce engineers have always endeavoured to design into the company’s internal combustion engine options.

On a purely technical level the 102EX’s real-world driving test schedule after Geneva will llet engineers test the car in varying temperature extremes and evaluate its actual battery range.

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