As James Bond fever engulfs the UK, revealing a car called ‘Spectre’ seems like top-level trolling from Rolls-Royce. However, this is no publicity stunt. The Spectre is the British marque’s first step towards a fully electric future by 2030.
Details are scant at present, but the disguised photos show a two-door coupe with a similar silhouette to the current Wraith. It has Rolls-Royce’s familiar Pantheon grille and rear-hinged ‘coach doors’, plus a strong shoulder line and sleek, turbine-look alloy wheels. It also shares the same aluminium architecture as the latest Phantom, Cullinan and Ghost.
CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös called the announcement “the most significant day in the history of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars since 4th May 1904,” when the company was founded. “This is not a prototype, it’s the real thing,” he explained. “It will be tested in plain sight and our clients will take first deliveries of the car in the fourth quarter of 2023.”
Global testing will cover 1.5 million miles – equivalent to 400 years of use for a Rolls-Royce, on average.
An electric dream
The Spectre might be Rolls-Royce’s first EV, but the brand has a long history with electricity. Sir Henry Royce started out making dynamos and electric crane motors, and actually patented the bayonet-style light bulb fitting.
His partner, Charles Rolls, also foresaw an electrified future, saying in 1900: “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.”
More recently, Rolls-Royce developed a prototype Phantom Experimental Electric (EE) in 2011, which traded its 6.75-litre V12 for a 290kW electric motor. Maximum torque of 590lb ft exceeded the 531lb ft of the petrol version, and the car was regularly seen ferrying celebrities around London. However, a short range and three-year battery life limited its appeal.
Then in 2016, the futuristic Rolls-Royce Vision Next 100 concept previewed the idea of an electric coupe.
For the very few
Müller-Ötvös added: “The name Spectre 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.”
The proof will be in the driving, but we suspect a combination of traditional British luxury, effortless electric torque and near-silence will leave Spectre customers stirred, not shaken.
Tim Pitt writes for Motoring Research