Rolls-Royce's new car is basically an ode to co-founder Charles Rolls. The engineer laid the groundwork for electric cars. Over a hundred years later, his legacy comes full circle with the all-electric Spectre.
Though it did possess an electric drive, the semi-electric car that Rolls created in April 1900, the Columbia, was still reliant on conventional combustibles and wasn't really fit for conventional use. Still, it spoke to something in his soul.
"The electric car is perfectly noiseless and clean," he said at the time. "There is no smell or vibration, and they should become very useful when fixed charging stations can be arranged. But for now, I do not anticipate that they will be very serviceable – at least for many years to come."
Many years, indeed. Over 120 years after Rolls' Columbia impressed the public as an oddity, electric cars are much more common today.
It's estimated that there are nearly 1.8 million electric vehicles driving around the US these days, more than three times as many recorded in 2016. Thank some loudmouthed billionaires, thank evolving technology, thank god: electric cars are the way of the future.
"I made a public promise, on the record, that we would bring the first fully electric Rolls‑Royce to market within the current decade," said CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös. "And, right now, our company is embarking on a historic undertaking to create the first, super-luxury car of its type. This will happen, sooner than many thought possible, through the incredible skills, expertise, vision, and dedication of our engineers, designers, and specialists."
The Spectre is the super-luxury car that Müller-Ötvös is referring to. Rolls-Royce's latest beast still has its specs (and appearance, really) under wraps but you can get an idea of the car's appearance from the imagery above.
There are a few hard facts that Rolls-Royce stresses when speaking about the Spectre. It's "NOT A WRAITH," the company enthuses in all-caps, iterating that the Spectre is built around its electric engine from the ground-up, using Rolls-Royce's spaceframe architecture.
And within a decade, that's how all Rolls-Royce cars will be: the company is going fully electric by 2030, no more V-12 or ICE. Its entire stable will be switching over, including the other flagship cars.
"Today is the most significant day in the history of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars since May 4, 1904," Müller-Ötvös continued. "On that date, our founding fathers, Charles Rolls and Sir Henry Royce, first met and agreed that they were going to create 'the best motor car in the world'"
Electric drive is "perfectly suited" to Rolls-Royce, Müller-Ötvös contends, because it's silent, yet incredibly powerful. It's the epitome of the old money whispering that fuels Rolls-Royce's refined reputation. Heck, Müller-Ötvös even describes the power of electric drive as "waftability."
"I am proud to announce that Rolls-Royce is to begin the on-road testing program for an extraordinary new product that will elevate the global all-electric car revolution and create the first – and finest – super-luxury product of its type. This is not a prototype. It’s the real thing, it will be tested in plain sight and our clients will take first deliver
Though Spectre is Rolls-Royce's most fleshed-out electric automobile to date, it's far from the company's only recent stab. There was the 102EX in 2011, an electric battery-operated Phantom.
Five years later, Rolls-Royce debuted the 103EX, its first entirely autonomous electric vehicle. But that was a concept: the Spectre is the real deal, scheduled to hit the market in Q4 2024.
Scant more information about the Spectre is available on Rolls-Royce's website but we'll have to wait until the extensive road tests conclude next year before we get more information.