The electric Rolls-Royce

What is it?

Currently a one-off prototype, the 102EX Experimental Electric is making the rounds of stronghold Rolls-Royce markets to determine potential customer interest in the car. Based on the top-of-the-range Phantom, it does away with a thirsty 6.75 litre V12 petrol engine in favour of a bank of 96 batteries under the bonnet and 2 electric motors where the fuel tank used to be. The 102EX runs emissions free and cost the car maker a cool AU$3m to build.

First seen on The Age online, here.

What do we think?

While the rest of the world is still bickering over how much pollution we are prepared to accept, car manufacturers have already sensed the change in the wind. In an impressive effort at self-preservation, the entire automotive industry is clamouring to develop energy efficient hybrid and electric cars. Many of the hybrids are already in production and at almost every price point possible – all the way from the BMW 7 series down to the car that started it all, the Toyota Prius.

Unfortunately, the market is still at a point where new energy efficient technologies cost a lot to produce: one of the common impediments to buyer uptake of hybrid cars is their price increase over similar combustion engine models. The Toyota Prius starts at AU$35,000 while the similarly-sized Corolla starts at AU$23,000. Rolls Royce is by definition already a step ahead in this regard – their buyers care less about astronomical cost than they do impeccable quality.

To this end, the 102EX is equipped with a bevy of features that extend beyond its environmental credentials and will hopefully encourage potential customers to reach for their chequebooks (or possibly no-limit credit cards). Our favourites of these include the 18-coat paint job whose ceramic nano particles are said to be 8,000 times smaller than the thickness of a hair, or the instantly recognisable Spirit of Ecstasy bonnet emblem that is bathed in a sci-fi blue glow. Without doubt though, the best is Rolls Royce’s solution to overcome the “undignified” act of recharging the car’s batteries: an induction pad is mounted to the underside of the car and receives a wireless transfer of energy from a loop embedded into the owner’s garage floor.

Automotive perfection or compromise? You can join the debate here.

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