Is a Rolls Royce Electric Vehicle About to Surprise Us All?
It might look more like Lady Penelope’s car has been given a butch overhaul than anything you would expect to see on our roads any time soon, but the 20-foot long Vision Next 100 103EX Concept from 2016 might just be the first glimpse of how an all-electric Rolls Royce ‘Silent Shadow’ might look. It’s increasingly likely now that a Rolls Royce EV is being planned for a not too distant future.
Having already announced that it would prefer to ‘skip’ the predicted hybrid years as the world transitions towards full EV status, Rolls has kept a somewhat low profile regarding the subject for the past 3 or 4 years. Jumping into 2021, it seems that Rolls Royce has had its fill of sitting back and observing the lay of the electric land, and is now ready to dip a toe in the water.
When? Well news might arrive as soon as the end of this year perhaps, as Rolls looks to begin working on a full electric Rolls Royce production vehicle. Just how much the British manufacturer will be willing to reveal at such an early stage remains to be seen, but the company clearly now believes that battery technology, the roll out of recharging depots, and universal government push, is showing that the electric zero-emission vehicle will not be a flash in the pan and is worth investing in.
There are even rumours that Rolls has already gone further forward with the EV project than they are letting on, and that a Phantom EV prototype is already in existence – and with a nifty bit of detective work, Autocar magazine highlights parent company BMW patenting the name ‘Silent Shadow’ with the German patent office in 2020. Such a name hints at Rolls Royce deciding to introduce a completely new line for their forays into electric vehicles, which might help placate the traditionalists. And if such a battery-powered Rolls Phantom does already exist at the BMW Research and Development department in Munich (which is already beginning to sound like an Area 51 for Rolls Royce), then the company is already warmed up and running. Of course, such rumours might simply be the legacy of the Phantom-based 102EX EV that was built as a one-off to see how the customers of such an iconic brand might react; but that was a very long time ago in car-terms.
Recently, BMW revealed i5 and i7 electric saloons with a promise that up to 9 new EV models are set to be in production by 2025. It doesn’t take much imagination to start guessing that a Rolls Silent Shadow might be based on the same or similar platform as something like the iX7, though it is more likely the Silent Shadow would benefit from Rolls Royce’s new aluminium spaceframe. BMW also announced that it was to increase EV production with joint venture companies like Spotlight Automotive in China. All part of the company’s 10-Year Growth Plan, which is likely to include Rolls Royce in some form or another. BMW’s connection with China also opens the door for specialist battery innovators like CATL to come on-board for what will undoubtedly be a high profile release. Rumours are already out there hinting that Rolls has achieved a range of around 300 miles in testing the battery technology – not too bad for an automobile that is likely to not be particularly svelte.
As the death of the V12 appears to be gloomily on the distant horizon, being squeezed by ever-tightening emission controls, it seems Rolls is planning on not getting caught short.
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