The first electric-powered Rolls-Royce car – also known as the Phantom Experimental Electric (EE) – will be unveiled at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show on March 1, the luxury vehicle maker announced on Sunday.
Rolls-Royce said the prototype, dubbed the 102EX and based on its top-end “Phantom” model, will be put through various tests throughout 2011.
The normal Phantom is powered by a 6.75 litre 12-cylinder engine, at least three to four times the size of the engine on a typical family sedan, and consumes about one litre of fuel for ever six kilometres travelled.
Engineers will use the Phantom, which normally costs from $460,000, to establish whether they can develop a commercial model which can run long enough to be of use and can operate in extreme weather conditions, which are known to effect battery performance.
The one-off Phantom 102EX, to be fully electric-powered, will then go on a global tour taking in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and North America, according to the Goodwood, England-based company.
“We have engineered the world’s first battery electric vehicle for the ultra-luxury segment,” chief executive Torsten Muller-Otvos said.
“With this vehicle, we begin an exploration into alternative drive-trains, seeking clarity on which alternative technologies may be suitable to drive Rolls-Royce motor cars of the future.”
Rolls-Royce Motor Cars said it wants to test opinions and reactions from owners, enthusiasts, members of the public and the media. Full details of the car’s specification are being kept under wraps until its Geneva launch.
“While there are no plans to develop a production version, as one of the company’s EX models it will serve to begin a dialogue with existing owners and stakeholders, posing as well as answering questions of its audience,” the company said.
These include the car’s ability to deliver an acceptable range between re-charges and to operate in extreme weather conditions, it said.
“I must be convinced that any alternative drive-train we choose for the future delivers an authentic Rolls-Royce experience,” Muller-Otvos said.
“It must be a technology that is right for our customers, our brand and which sets us on a sound footing for a sustainable future,” he added.