A Spectre in Development
Perhaps one of the most recognizable names in the automotive realm, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars has been building extraordinary automobiles since the company’s inception more than 100 years ago. With advanced engineering, powerful engines and lavish interiors, the modern-day Rolls-Royce has no roadgoing peer. Looking to the future, by 2030 every Rolls-Royce vehicle will be all electric, and the first step toward that electric future is the Rolls-Royce Spectre EV. In preparation for Spectre coming to market, this new EV is undergoing rigorous testing — more than any other Rolls in history.
Teaching Spectre to be a Rolls
“We have created a testing programme that is as significant and historical as Spectre itself,” said Torsten Müller-OtvOs, CEO of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. “The extraordinary undertaking of educating Spectre to think and behave like a Rolls-Royce will cover 2.5 million kilometres, which is a simulation of more than 400 years of use for a Rolls-Royce. Today, I can confirm that 25% of this journey is now complete, and the results have met our most ambitious expectations,” Otvos enthused.
Originated with Charles Rolls
The goal of an electric Rolls-Royce is not new. Charles Rolls considered the idea in 1900 after experiencing one of the first electric motor cars — the Columbia Electric Carriage. 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. But for now, I do not anticipate that they will be very serviceable — at least for many years to come.” Truer words were never spoken. Many years have passed, and the time has come for an electric Rolls-Royce.
Like the Phantom, Ghost and Wraith, the name Spectre suggests the ethereal. “Spectre is a name given to otherworldly beings synonymous with great power and apparition . . . It dominates the space it occupies. Then, as quickly as it appears, it dissipates, leaving a wake of exhilaration, energy, and intrigue,” says Muller-Otvos. “This name perfectly matches the extraordinary Rolls-Royce that we are announcing today — a motor car that makes its presence felt before disappearing into a world inaccessible to all but the very few,” noted the CEO.
The British marque refers to the new platform on which Spectre rides as Rolls-Royce 3.0. When the company launched the last-generation Phantom in 2003, it was built on all-new architecture. Only a few years ago Rolls-Royce introduced the current aluminum spaceframe architecture that underpins the Phantom, Cullinan and Ghost — now labeled Rolls-Royce 2.0. And Rolls-Royce 3.0 represents the latest platform, designed for the integration of an all-electric powertrain.
The Rolls-Royce Spectre EV will be more than simply a new electric vehicle; it will likely be one of the most advanced vehicles the company has ever produced. With more than 1,000 functions and 25,000 sub-functions, the electronics in the Spectre are much more extensive than any of the vehicles in the current Rolls-Royce lineup. With 25 times more algorithms written for the Spectre versus the current Phantom, Spectre requires more than three times the cabling needed in any other Rolls-Royce product.
Phantom Coupe Successor
To this point, all images of the Rolls-Royce Spectre EV have been camouflaged, although we hope to see the actual vehicle before the end of the year. However, Rolls-Royce is referring to the new model as an “Electric Super Coupe,” perhaps considered the successor to the Phantom Coupe was sold from 2008–2016.
Bold Looks, Slippery Design
Spectre is designed to operate on a grand scale with a clear presence — as expected of any Rolls-Royce. The EV rides on 23-inch wheels — the largest the company has used on a vehicle since 1926. The steeply raked windshield and fastback design certainly draw attention as well as improve airflow efficiency. Even the famed Spirit of Ecstasy has been redesigned for improved aerodynamics. Early prototypes of the Rolls-Royce Spectre EV are posting drag coefficient data of just 0.26.
The battery for Spectre gets located beneath the floor, which further improves aerodynamics as well as allows for a lower seating position to create a more intimate environment. All the wiring channels reside between the floor and the top of the battery; that space also creates additional sound deadening (an apt term for Spectre).
As with other models in the automaker’s famed lineup, Rolls-Royce does most initial new-vehicle testing and development in cold environs – in this case at the company’s facility in Arjeplog, Sweden, which is a mere 55 km from the Arctic Circle. Temperatures range from -15 F to -40 Fahrenheit. Basic tests are performed in extreme conditions to confirm all systems will function properly in more temperate regions. These tests include checking interior materials as well as door seals, bonding agents and fastening materials.
Rolls-Royce takes advantage of slick surfaces in the cold climes of winter testing, creating situations that would be dangerous at high speeds but can be better studied at low speeds on ice. Handling, stability, predictability and general driving characteristics are all developed, tested and honed to ensure the new model is befitting the typical Rolls-Royce experience. At this point in the process, engineers have put Spectre through more than 500,000 test kilometers, which —as noted previously — the company says is only 25 percent of the total test distance planned.
Creating a Rolls-Royce
“Our task is to teach each component and system how to think, behave and communicate like a Rolls-Royce, which sees much of the engineering pivot from workshops into the digital space” said Mihiar Ayoubi, director of engineering at Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. “Here in Arjeplog we have built a significant foundation on which we will create a true Rolls-Royce. This is a big step forward for our brand, but also for electrification — even though Spectre is in its infancy, I can confirm that the technology is able to contain the Rolls-Royce experience,” Dr. Ayoubi noted.
Arriving Next Year
Now that winter testing is complete, the Spectre will move into its next phase of development as engineers perfect the first Rolls-Royce electric luxury automobile. We anticipate additional information about Spectre over the next 18 months prior to the first customer deliveries, which are expected to begin during the fourth quarter of 2023.
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