Rolls-Royce is going electric, with the British automaker announcing its first all-EV, the Rolls-Royce Spectre. Part of a plan which will turn the company’s luxury range into a fully electric one by 2030, Spectre will be the first of a new breed of EVs, expected to come to market in Q4 2023.
It’s not Rolls-Royce’s first flirtations with electric, of course, though so far all we’ve seen from the BMW-owned brand have been concepts and prototypes. All the way back in 2011, the Rolls-Royce 102EX gave a Phantom sedan the all-electric treatment, described by the automaker as a “working test-bed” for potential alternative drivetrain technologies.
Other electrified concepts have been a little less surreptitious. The Rolls-Royce VISION NEXT 100 was an outlandish departure for the company, the length of a Phantom but with cutaway bodywork, almost fully-enclosed wheels, and a swooping coupe roofline. Again, the idea wasn’t to bring that exact car to market, Rolls-Royce said, but instead to preview what the next 100 years of the company might look like.
Spectre, though, will arrive a lot sooner. The new two-door will be based on the automaker’s proprietary aluminum architecture, the same unique space frame that underpins the latest Phantom, Cullinan, and Ghost. It’s a platform shared with no other automaker, and was designed from the outset with alternative powertrains in mind.
To make sure it lives up to expectations, Rolls-Royce says Spectre will be going through “the most demanding testing program” in the marque’s history. It’ll simulate more than 400 years of use, on average, for the automaker’s owners by driving the EVs almost 1.6 million miles, taking prototypes around the world to trial it in different conditions.
“You will see these test cars on roads, around the world. Look out for them – they will be in plain sight,” Torsten Müller-Ötvös, CEO of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, said of the Spectre prototypes. “They will be tested in all conditions and over all terrains on their multi-million mile journey that will literally accelerate Rolls-Royce into the future.”
Exact specifications for Spectre are, at this stage, not being shared. Details like range and power will come later on. However it’s clear that Rolls-Royce is leaning into electric drive’s core potential to fit its vehicles’ profile: what, Müller-Ötvös says, the company calls “waftability.”
The smooth near-silence and instant torque of EVs fits, of course, the profile of big luxury cars well. Indeed it’s for that reason we’ve seen rivals like Bentley and others embrace electrification; Bentley plans its first fully electric car by 2025, and already has several hybrids in its range. By 2030 it, too, will no longer be making models with combustion engines.
Rolls-Royce’s challenge – as with other automakers – is to pack in sufficient range to satisfy the demands of its customers. That’s a group that is unused to compromise, and expects big things from their six-figure vehicles.