Rolls-Royce, long one of the leaders in luxury automobiles, has opened a new chapter in its history: In October, it unveiled the Rolls-Royce Spectre, its first fully electric vehicle. Although Rolls-Royce built its business on the combustion engine, the company saw a bright future for electric cars earlier than most. Back in 1900, Charles Rolls, one of the company’s co-founders, predicted that the company would head in the direction of creating electric vehicles:
“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.”
So, from the company’s point of view, making an electric car was inevitable…even if it did take 120 years for the company to do it.
“Spectre possesses all the qualities that have secured the Rolls-Royce legend,” says Torsten Müller-Ötvös, chief executive officer for Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. And echoing the co-founder, he says that the new Spectre coupe is “silent, powerful and demonstrates how perfectly Rolls-Royce is suited to electrification.” Yet, despite the profound sea change the company is embarking on, Müller-Ötvös says that how the car is powered isn’t really the primary goal in many ways. “Spectre is a Rolls-Royce first and an electric car second.”
The Rolls-Royce Spectre inherits its main structure from two previous gas-powered sedans, the Phantom and Ghost, and the Cullinan SUV. Since it has an all-electric powertrain, the new two-door Spectre, which seats four, will have instant torque and run silently. It’s also powerful. Its dual-motor electric powertrain has 577 horsepower and 664 lb.-ft of torque. It can also reach 60 mph in 4.4 seconds and has a top speed of 155 mph.
Yet, you might wonder exactly how the company makes the new Spectre “a Rolls-Royce first and an electric car second”?
For me, it means the company focuses on design. So, it’s not surprising that, like many of the company’s previous gas-powered models, the new Spectre has a stunning design.
One of the first things you’ll notice, at least in terms of design, is that it’s big—nearly 18 feet long, almost as long as an average pickup truck. Plus, the dynamically designed wheels are 23-inches, the largest on any Rolls in nearly a hundred years. It’s heavy, too, weighing in at around 6,560 pounds, although part of that weight is the battery, which is 1,500 pounds and acts as sound-deadening material for the cabin for a very smooth and quiet ride.
They’ve also redesigned its signature grille at the front of the car, which is the widest grille ever on a Rolls. On this EV the grille doesn’t serve its usual function, which is to cool the engine in a gas-powered car. Instead, it’s been redesigned to make the car more aerodynamic, and the company claims the new Spectre has a drag coefficient of 0.25.
Inside, the cabin has Rolls-Royce’s signature sumptuous design and attention to detail paired with a customizable digital interface. The company refers to this interface as the architecture of luxury, which it calls Spirit, which can manage all the car’s functions and connect to Roll-Royce’s Whispers app. The app allows owners to connect to the car remotely. The company also added the Starlight headliner feature, tiny fiber-optic lights that make it like a starry night overhead, to the doors.
If you step back from the car and look at the exterior, you’ll see three elegant lines on the side of the car: From top to bottom, the company calls them the silhouette line, the shoulder line, and the waft line. What the designers have done is use the two bottom linear elements (the shoulder and waft lines) and taper them as they approach the front of the car, visually giving it a dynamic quality, even when the car is stational. You could say the same for the design elements on the wheels, which almost look like they were lifted from the oil paintings of the early 20th-century French modernist Fernand Léger.
The hood ornament got a redesign as well. The company says it took more than 800 hours to redesign its very familiar Spirit of Ecstasy figurine, which was originally inspired by the Nike of Samothrace, currently located in the Louvre. The newer figurine has a lower, more active stance, with one leg forward, and is now looking straight ahead into the wind.
The new Rolls Royce Spectre, which will be available sometime in the fourth quarter of 2023, will cost around $400,000, making it one of the most expensive EVs on the market.