Rolls-Royce developing EV, possibly as replacement for Wraith/Dawn

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It’s all or nothing at Rolls-Royce. The maker of some of the most opulent cars on the road says it has no plans to equip its vehicles with plug-in hybrid power, but will eventually have no choice but to offer battery-electric setups.

In fact, an electric Rolls-Royce is already being developed. It will be introduced later this decade, CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös told Automotive News (subscription required) in an interview published last week.

Rolls-Royce tested the market for interest in an EV as early as 2011 when it sent its 102EX electric Phantom on a world tour. Rolls-Royce abandoned plans for a production version citing a lack of interest.

It’s a stance the automaker says is true even today, though regulatory requirements means the automaker must react. There are plans already in place to ban vehicles with zero-emission modes from some city centers around the end of the decade.

Rolls Royce Phantom Experimental Electric 102EX

“There is no demand from customers (for an EV) but we need to be in a position to sell them a car if legislation forbids them from driving a combustion-engine car into the center of a city,” a Rolls-Royce spokesman told Automotive News.

The aluminum space-frame platform that debuted in the latest Phantom has been engineered with electric powertrains in mind, so it’s plausible that all vehicles based on the platform, a list that includes the Cullinan SUV and latest Ghost, could also be offered with electric power.

However, Rolls-Royce executives have hinted to Automotive News that the first EV could be a new model to replace the Wraith coupe and Dawn convertible, both of which reach the end of their life cycles in the coming years.

While Rolls-Royce continues to insist there aren’t any customers interested in EVs, there’s already a company building and selling electric Rolls-Royces. Fellow British firm Lunaz is rebuilding classic Rolls-Royce models from the ground up and swapping their powertrains for electric setups. Its first is a stunning 1961 Rolls-Royce Phantom.

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