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Rolls-Royce goes all-electric with the new Spectre – Yahoo Finance


Rolls-Royce’s co-founder predicted the super luxury EV 120 years ago. That prophecy is now fulfilled.

Believe it or not, founder Charles Rolls said back in April 1900 that the future of luxury cars would be EV powertrains. After riding in an early electric car from American automaker Columbia, Rolls said, “The electric car is perfectly noiseless and clean. There is no smell or vibration, and they should become very useful when fixed charging stations can be arranged.”

Now, all these years later, after Rolls’ company went through many of its own ups and downs — and a recent revitalization under BMW (BMWYY) stewardship — the company unveiled its first all-electric vehicle, the Spectre. It is not a concept car however, as it will be road tested in December of this year with first deliveries to customers happening in 2023. 

Rolls-Royce Spectre electric vehicle (Credit: Rolls-Royce Motor Cars)

Rolls-Royce Spectre electric vehicle (Credit: Rolls-Royce Motor Cars)

Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös is pledging to bring the company electric this decade. “Our company is embarking on an historic undertaking to create the first, super luxury car of its type,” Müller-Ötvös says. “This will happen, sooner than many thought possible, through the incredible skills, expertise, vision and dedication of our engineers, designers and specialists at the Home of Rolls-Royce.”

“For us, electrification is, on the side of our marvelous 12-cylinder engine, a very important step into the long-future for the brand,” Müller-Ötvös told Yahoo Finance. “Clients are also asking us actively, ‘When are you going electric?'”

Details are scant as to the technical specifications of the Spectre, although we do know it will be using Rolls-Royce’s new aluminum space-frame architecture. Rolls has said nothing concrete about its future electric plans beyond the Spectre, but we know they are aiming to go fully electric – and pretty soon.

“With this new product we set out our credentials for the full electrification of our entire product portfolio by 2030,” he says. “By then, Rolls-Royce will no longer be in the business of producing or selling any internal combustion engine products.” 

Charles Rolls, the co-founder of the Rolls-Royce car manufacturing firm. circa 1909.   (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)

Charles Rolls, the co-founder of the Rolls-Royce car manufacturing firm. circa 1909. (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)

That’s a pretty aggressive timeline for a company that has been making cars powered by gas-guzzling 12-cylinder engines for quite some time now. However, Müller-Ötvös says the automaker is finally “happy” with the technology it now has in its hands after a few years of experimentation, claiming the upcoming Spectre is “truly a magnificent Rolls-Royce.”

A lot has happened over the years as electric powertrains have evolved — and evolved quickly. As smooth as Rolls-Royce automobiles are with those gas-powered V-12s that you can barely hear running, the transition to electric appears to be a no-brainer because of this technological evolution. 

Electric motors are extremely quiet — There are no gears or a transmission that interrupt the smooth delivery of power, and the immense torque available right from a standstill would give a car like a Rolls EV supercar-levels of instant acceleration. 

That sounds a lot like the vision Charles Rolls was predicting, though I wonder if he thought it would take 120 years to get there.

Pras Subramanian is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. You can follow him on Twitter and on Instagram.

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