Rolls-Royce teases Spectre coupe, its first EV

Imagine it: cruising down the road in your Rolls-Royce, ensconced in enough hand-crafted finery to keep a small village busy for a month, with nothing but the susurration of the wind passing by. That will be a reality come late 2023 when Rolls-Royce launches its first electric vehicle—on a road toward a fully electric lineup by 2030.

To be called Spectre, teaser shots of the car were released on Wednesday and reveal it as a coupe. They also reveal that the Spectre will feature a more aerodynamically efficient shape than your typical blocky Rolls-Royce, which makes sense given its electric powertrain. Drag is huge killer of range.

Spectre, which is the British way of spelling “specter,” is in keeping with Rolls-Royce's penchant of using ghoulish names for its vehicles, and even though the vehicle's a coupe, a Rolls-Royce spokeswoman told Motor Authority that it isn't a replacement for the Wraith. It's possible then that the Spectre might be positioned higher to fill in for the previous Phantom Coupe.

What we know is that it will utilize a version of Rolls-Royce's own aluminum space-frame platform that debuted in the current Phantom. Given the 2023 launch date, the powertrain will most likely be parent company BMW Group's fifth-generation EV technology which supports battery sizes up to 120 kilowatt-hours, or enough for a range approaching 400 miles on a charge. The 2022 BMW iX probably provides some clues. The electric crossover is also based on an aluminum space-frame platform, and currently offers up to 516 hp and an 111-kwh battery good for 300 miles of range.

Rolls-Royce tested the market for interest in an EV as early as 2011 when it developed a one-off electric version of the previous-generation Phantom. Dubbed 102EX, the vehicle was sent out on a world tour but failed to gauge much interest from potential customers due to its range shortcomings. Rolls-Royce estimated the 102EX could cover only about 125 miles on a charge.

But with battery advancements, and the need to meet new regulations, including in Rolls-Royce's home market of the U.K., which will ban the sale of vehicles powered solely by internal-combustion engines from 2030, Rolls-Royce is now ready to make the switch.

Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Mueller-Oetvoes is quick to point out that development of the Spectre is almost complete and that prototypes soon to start public testing are already representative of the final production version. The testing phase will see the prototypes cover more than 1.5 million miles.

Interestingly, the use of electric power is not a new concept in the history of Rolls-Royce. Henry Royce, who established the Rolls-Royce brand together with Charles Rolls in 1906, also had an engineering business where he created dynamos and electric crane motors and patented the bayonet-style light bulb fitting.