Imagine it: cruising down the road in your Rolls-Royce, ensconced in enough hand-crafted finery to keep a small village busy for a month, with nothing but the susurration of the wind passing by. That will be a reality come late 2023 when Rolls-Royce launches its first electric vehicle.
First announced last fall, the Rolls-Royce EV is set to be a large coupe called the Spectre. The name is the British way of spelling “specter,” and is in keeping with Rolls-Royce's penchant of using ghoulish names for its vehicles.
As the latest spy footage reveals, the Spectre features a more aerodynamically efficient shape than your typical blocky Rolls-Royce, which makes sense given its electric powertrain. Drag is huge killer of range. It also looks like the Spectre will have split headlights, likely to help reduce the visual weight of its tall front end.
The design reminds us a lot of the Wraith, which was discounted in 2021, with the fastback roof and side glass almost the same across the two coupes. With any luck we'll also get a convertible version of the Spectre to fill in for the Wraith-based Dawn drop-top.
The Spectre will utilize a version of Rolls-Royce's own aluminum space-frame platform that debuted in the current Phantom. Given the 2023 launch date, the powertrain will most likely be parent company BMW Group's fifth-generation EV technology which supports battery sizes up to 120 kilowatt-hours, or enough for a range approaching 400 miles on a charge. The BMW iX probably provides some clues. The electric SUV is also based on an aluminum space-frame platform, and currently offers up to 610 hp and an 111-kwh battery good for 300 miles of range in iX M60 guise.
Rolls-Royce tested the market for interest in an EV as early as 2011, when it developed a one-off electric version of the previous-generation Phantom. Dubbed 102EX, the vehicle was sent out on a world tour but failed to gauge much interest from potential customers due to its range shortcomings. Rolls-Royce estimated the 102EX could cover only about 125 miles on a charge.
2024 Rolls-Royce Spectre spy shots - Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien
But with battery advancements, and the need to meet new regulations, including in Rolls-Royce's home market of the U.K., which will ban the sale of vehicles powered solely by internal-combustion engines from 2030, Rolls-Royce is now ready to make the switch.
Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Mueller-Oetvoes is quick to point out that development of the Spectre is almost complete. The real-world testing phase will see the prototypes cover more than 1.5 million miles, after which the launch will take place in late 2023, meaing a likely arrive as a 2024 model. Rolls-Royce is expected to then launch electric versions of its Phantom, Ghost and Cullinan as each vehicle is redesigned. If all goes to plan, the full lineup will be electric by the time 2030 rolls around.
Interestingly, the use of electric power is not a new concept in the history of Rolls-Royce. Henry Royce, who established the Rolls-Royce brand together with Charles Rolls in 1906, also had an engineering business where he created dynamos and electric crane motors and patented the bayonet-style light bulb fitting.