Why an electric Rolls Royce wouldn't make much sense
There's more to a Roller than a luxurious interior.
I want to start off by saying that I have nothing against electric cars: I think they can be a wonderful thing and seeing more and more of them come to the market is extremely exciting. They offer something different and perhaps cool compared to the ICE counterparts. Some brands like Porsche, Jaguar and Tesla have made some fabulous executions of the genre. It's eminent that other brands will make the shift too, sooner or later, and some will find it trickier than others.
Rolls Royce will be one of them - at least that's what I reckon.
For over 100 years, every motorcar conceived under the names, Charles Rolls and Henry Royce have always epitomised greatness. Some simply regard them as the best in the automotive world.
Capturing the imaginations of the rich and famous the globe, a Rolls emphasised power, wealth and statesmanship. They made sure that every customer received the pinnacle in luxury and a reason to travel in eccentric style.
I happen to believe that as the car industry is pushing towards the electric buzz, Rolls Royce will be one of the most difficult manufacturers to make the shift. That's because - in my opinion - an electric Roller just wouldn't... work.
Image credit: Favcars.com
To understand why Rolls Royce got the reputation they did, we need to understand what was going on in the early days of the brand.
The 10hp was described as 'perfect' by anyone who drove it. The Silver Ghost was praised for its unbelievable levels of engineering quality and reliability. In 1907, it underwent a massive non-stop drive exceeding 14,000 miles in the Scottish highlands.
The RAC then inspected the car afterwards and described it as "more than extraordinary" before praising Henry Royce for his "triumph of engineering construction."
For two decades, the Silver Ghost was recognised in the same way by customers all around the world. Lawrence of Arabia loved them. The Rolls Royce name became highly favoured to the Maharaja in India because of their sheer brilliance in engineering and quality.
This magic that rested in Rolls Royce engines continued throughout the decades (and with Bentleys, as they merged in 1931 until 1998) and still remains a key characteristic today.
With the Silver Cloud for instance, an American magazine stated the loudest noise you could hear at 60mph was the ticking of the clock. If that doesn't demonstrate engineering excellence, I don't really know what else does!
So, what exactly is the point I'm trying to make? Well, the simple fact is: it takes some serious talent to make an engine as silent and smooth as a Roller's. The fact that the engines are so large, yet silky smooth is what makes a Rolls Royce great.
I heard a 1914 Silver Ghost start up and run at the Beaulieu Motor Museum last year. Let me tell you: it was honestly as smooth and quiet as a modern BMW or Audi diesel engine of today. The guide said that pedestrians struggled to hear these new Rolls Royces coming when crossing the road - a similar issue to electric cars of today, as he told me.
It's one of the main fascinations that people notice when they see them driving by on the street; even normal people glance at Rollers and go "wow, you can barely hear that!"
Fast forward to the present day, and that fascination still holds its weight. The huge V12 BMW engines in Rollers are nothing less than completely muted from any kind of vulgar nonsense related to noise.
I had a ride in a 2013 Ghost a few years ago - and while I wasn't a big fan of the car itself - nobody can deny that the extent of time, quality and soul that went into that engine. Even when you put your foot down, you could feel it pull, but it still didn't make a sound. That alone, astonished me.
And while electric motors do exactly the same thing as a Rolls Royce's engine, they just don't have that level of engineering brilliance. No hours are spent refining them for perfection.
If Rolls went forward with it, the electric motors would be built and installed in pretty much the same way as the next factory who are putting them in mundane Nissan Leafs. And where's the fascination in that?
Of course, Rolls Royces are also notable for having a very different approach to luxury. The interiors are more simplistically analogue and the insane optional extras focus more on handmade craftsmanship rather than digital fuss. So, MAYBE they could pull it off in the future.
What I'm effectively saying is that Rolls Royce built up their amazing reputation because of their exquisite levels of engineering and perfecting the mechanical components like fine art.
A Rolls going electric would arguably cut its soul in half because apart from the interior and options, it would be engineered in exactly the same way as your average family wagon. That's why I think making the shift will be incredibly difficult for the brand.
Unless they somehow engineer a battery pack made from gold and a set of electric motors were sent down from Greek Gods, I'm not convinced an electric Rolls Royce makes a lot of sense.
What do you think?
Do you think a brand with a strong backlog of engineering excellence can make the shift to an electric future? Let me know in the comments.
Nevertheless, I hope you enjoyed reading my opinion piece and have a great day wherever you are!