It’s hard to believe, but famed marque Rolls-Royce has already announced the eventual elimination of internal combustion engines in its lineup. For more than 100 years, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars has been building extraordinary automobiles — all gasoline fueled — but 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 continues to undergo rigorous testing — more than any other Rolls in history — and has recently moved to the second phase of its development plan.
“It is no exaggeration to state that Spectre is the most anticipated Rolls-Royce ever. Free from the restrictions connected to the internal combustion engine, our battery-electric vehicle will offer the purest expression of the Rolls-Royce experience in the marque’s 118-year history, “ said Chief Executive Officer of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Torsten Muller-Otvos. “This latest testing phase proves a suite of advanced technologies that underpin a symbolic shift for Rolls-Royce as it progresses towards a bright, bold, all-electric future. This will secure the ongoing relevance of our brand for generations to come,” Muller-Otvos noted.
Not Without Precedent
Although Rolls-Royce made a name for itself creating powerfully quiet internal combustion engines, the company’s founder, Charles Rolls, did consider the electric car. After driving a 1900 Columbia, he said “The electric car is perfectly noiseless and clean. There is no smell or vibration. They should become very useful when fixed charging stations can be arranged.” Quite the visionary statement. And now the Spectre will bring this vision to reality.
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.
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 will ride 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 hood ornament has been redesigned for improved aerodynamics, and the result is a drag coefficient of a mere 0.25, which makes Spectre the most aerodynamic Rolls-Royce ever produced.
On to Phase Two
Earlier this year, Rolls-Royce engineers put the Spectre through its paces in Arjeplog, Sweden, where the vehicle endured testing in extremely cold, slick conditions. Now that winter testing has concluded, development moves to the next phase. As part of the 2.5-million kilometer total testing planned for Spectre, it is currently in a 625,000 km testing phase undergoing scrutiny in slightly warmer climes at a location that’s likely to be home to more than a few production versions — the French Riviera.
The second phase of Rolls-Royce Spectre EV testing gets split into two parts, with a significant portion of the program taking place at the Autodrome de Miramas proving ground in Istres, France, where engineers will be able to take advantage of multiple closed roads, 20 test tracks and a banked 3.1-mile oval track to properly test the new Spectre at continuous high speeds.
The Spectre will also be driven on the country roads surrounding the Autodrome, providing a landscape for testing this advanced Rolls-Royce under real-life conditions. The development plan calls for rear-world testing in some of the marque’s most important markets around the world, and the south of France certainly qualifies as such a place. (Part of a clever marketing plan, no doubt.)
Rolls-Royce automobiles are known for their smooth, comfortable ride in what the company refers to as a Magic Carpet Ride. Spectre gets new suspension technology that will further improve the magic. With new hardware and components, the system can read the road surface ahead and bring in data from the navigation system to prepare the Spectre for upcoming curves or rough roads.
On straight roads the Spectre’s anti-roll bars are disconnected, which allows each wheel to act independently, but as the vehicle approaches a curve the anti-roll bars reconnect, suspension dampers stiffness increases, and the four-wheel steering system activates — all of this occurs before the vehicle even reaches turn-in for the curve. Once in the corner, more than 18 sensors monitor steering, braking, power delivery and more to keep the Spectre perfectly stable and comfortable for its passengers.
Most Advanced Rolls Ever
In addition to its all-electric powertrain, the Spectre will be the most advanced Rolls-Royce the company has ever produced, especially when it comes to the vehicle’s electronic architecture. With more computing power than ever in a vehicle from Rolls, the system features 141,200 sender-receiver relationships between functions and components, handling more than 1,000 functions and 25,000 subfunctions, including factors such as weather, driving conditions, vehicle status and driving style, to quickly determine what response to each of these variables should be. Part of the testing in France will include examining every possible scenario to create a dedicated control for each of the Spectre’s 25,000 subfunctions.
The Spectre rides on a dedicated Rolls-Royce platform that will help create the most rigid body ever for a Rolls-Royce motor car. A single side panel extending from the A-pillar to behind the taillights adds to the stiffness, and the integration of the battery within the vehicle structure helps increase rigidity by 30 percent. The pillarless, rear-hinged coach doors are more than four feet long — the longest doors ever on a Rolls.
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 sold from 2008–2016.
Still On Track
At this point Spectre development is 40 percent complete. Rolls-Royce still expects to show the production vehicle by the end of this year with first customer deliveries to begin in the fourth quarter of 2023.