First drive: Rolls-Royce Phantom 102EX electric in Dubai
It isn’t every day that we get to drive a Rolls-Royce. It isn’t every day that we get to drive an electric car either. But there we were, driving the Rolls-Royce Phantom 102EX, the British carmaker’s experiment with electric cars.
The interesting part about this Rolls Royce prototype is that it looks virtually identical to the regular Phantom. The only giveaways are the blue-glowing “flying lady” hood ornament and a blue-glowing petrol cap that has actually been replaced with an electric plug-point. The paint is also unique to this electric prototype.
Lift the bonnet and there is a huge 640-kilo lump of Lithium-Nickel-Cobalt-Manganese-Oxide cells churning out 290 kW, equivalent to 389 hp of power and 800 Nm of torque, much more than the much-hyped Chevy Volt’s 182-kilo battery pack. Indeed, the Phantom does not suffer the traditional issues associated with electric cars — it is already big enough to hold the batteries and electric setup under the bonnet and in the area where fuel-tank used to be, and weight isn’t really a concern in a car that is already heavy. Somehow, Rolls Royce engineers even claim that they’ve managed to keep the weight distribution similar to the regular Phantom. The 0-100 kph acceleration run reportedly takes more than 8 seconds and the top speed is limited to 160 kph, both apparently intentional to keep the character of the car luxurious rather than aggressive. Range is claimed to be between 100 km and 200 km, although the GCC heat likely takes a toll on that, as our driving event was conducted at night.
The electric Phantom can actually be charged wirelessly using a floor-mounted induction pad that interacts with a similar pad underneath the car. For charging, the car just needs to be parked for around 8 hours over the floor pad that is connected to an electrical outlet, and it is less than 1 square-metre in size. The plug-point on the rear fender is just a back-up for when out in public.
Out at the Dubai Autodrome, we got a couple of laps in the electric Phantom, and then we got a couple of laps in the V12-powered Phantom Coupe, just to compare. The electric version drives just like a regular car. Press the throttle, and the 102EX moves off smoothly, the only sounds being heard are the tyre noise and a bit of wind noise. Granted, the car isn’t designed for the track so we didn’t push it hard, but the steering was expectedly ultra-light and ultra-vague, while the brakes felt like stepping on a sponge, even if they did haul down the car well enough. There were obviously no gearchanges, and of course, no engine noise no matter how hard we stepped on the power pedal. In contrast, the V12 in the Coupe made itself known with a muted growl every time we pressed the throttle. That’s about the only real difference we noticed. It almost seems like the 102EX is ready for production.
And yet, Rolls Royce says this is just an engineering exercise to “spark a debate” on whether lucury brands should switch to alternative sources of power to future-proof themselves, while still appealing to their traditional customers. The 102EX is on a world tour to gather feedback from media and customers, but an electric Phantom will not be offered any time soon.
Photos by Mashfique Hussain Chowdhury and Rolls-Royce.
Great stuff – Other manufacturers should learn from this. It would be great if they would ask for peoples feedback.
Don’t Consider me an EgoManiac, tho I tend to be one, when it comes to rolls royce.
First things first, I made a decision in life to buy only a Rolls Royce, and Then after learning about the toll hydro carbons made on the environment, and the future of the generations to come, I amended my decision to buy only an electric car.
Now, thanks to rolls royce, my dream will come true.
As for the comparisons, in the review, do not compare rolls royce with any other car ever ( the egomaniac part ), Rolls Royce is not a car, it is a dream, and only for one in a million people do dreams come true, so let it remain what it is the dream.
Finally about the future, I appeal to the entire transport industry, the money you make burning fossil fuels, you are destroying the future of the generations, quit the industry if you don’t know how to, or if you can’t tap into renewable sources of energy, just quit, that would be better for the entire planet and your future generations, or else your own children will curse your existence.