unveiled its first electric-powered car, the 102EX Concept, today at the 2011 Geneva Auto Show. Based on the luxury-laden sedan, the donor car's massive 6.8-liter V-12 engine has given way to a lithium-ion battery pack and electric motors. Rolls Royce says 102EX will serve as a "rolling test bed" to determine whether the iconic British luxury brand makes a move into the world of electric vehicles.
"We have engineered the world's first battery electric vehicle for the ultra-luxury segment," said CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös. "With this vehicle, we begin an exploration into alternative drivetrains, seeking clarity on which alternative technologies may be suitable to drive Rolls-Royce motor cars of the future."
The powertrain in this eco-minded Rolls-Royce produces 290 kW. For comparison, the electric motor in the Mitsubishi "i" relies on 16 kW of power. Weighing in at approximately three tons, 102EX is said to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in under 8 seconds. Driving range is roughly 125 miles, according to Rolls-Royce.
Going Green Won't Come Cheap
To announce to the world that you're going green—and we mean in the environmental sense here, not just filthy rich—102EX features a special illuminated version of the Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament. Considering that the standard Phantom sedan costs $380,000, we doubt any electric-powered Roller will be priced to compete with the or .
For the moment, there is no definite production plan for this Rolls-badged electric. Rolls-Royce says the first plan of action is to take 102EX on a global tour, to gauge interest in the car and gain feedback about whether or not there is a market for luxurious (i.e., really expensive) EVs. Pricey electric vehicles, like the and Fisker Karma sedan, would seem to have already done Rolls-Royce's homework regarding the subject.
"I must be convinced that any alternative drivetrain we choose for the future delivers an authentic Rolls-Royce experience," said Müller-Ötvös. Quick-charging and engine performance that is refined and powerful enough to fit the Rolls-Royce tradition of effortless motoring should keep teams of engineers up at night. If 102EX does come to market—and we think it will—an on-sale date sometime in 2012 (as a 2013 model) seems highly likely.