Electrification has reached the pinnacle of the motoring world with Rolls-Royce having launched the world’s first ultra luxury car – the Spectre, which made its debut in Malaysia today. Priced from RM2 million (without taxes), the Spectre is the spiritual successor to the Phantom Coupe and begins a new era for the carmaker.
An electrically-powered car is not new to Rolls-Royce and the company says that its founders were familiar with electric cars at the beginning of the 20th century. While Henry Royce was an electrical engineer, Charles Rolls himself owned an electric car – which was not uncommon back then.
But it would not be until the 21st century that the company would begin exploring electric propulsion systems for its cars. Prototypes began appearing from 2011 onwards but being a Rolls-Royce and all that the brand stands for, developing an electric car worthy of the name was a challenging project.
Announced 2 years ago
It was only in 2021 that its CEO, Torsten Muller-Otvos, announced that the finished product would make its debut by the fourth quarter of 2023. As it turns out, the deadline was beaten by a year – despite the world having gone through the COVID-19 pandemic that created limitations in daily life.
The Spectre was revealed in October 2022 and the first customers will be getting their cars within a few months. In spite of this being an entirely new type of Rolls-Royce with technologies not used by the company before, there has been no hesitation by its customers.
Orders till 2025
According to a Rolls-Royce executive, there were orders coming in the moment the company said it was going to make an electric car. More would have been received when the first pictures were released and if you order one today, you will have to wait till 2025.
The trust that those who buy a Rolls-Royce is understandable because its cars are among the finest in the world and the Spectre is a Rolls-Royce first, and an electric car second.
Architecture of Luxury
As a 2-door fastback coupe, it is the fourth series model to be built on the Architecture of Luxury platform unique to Rolls-Royce. This highly flexible all-aluminium spaceframe architecture is also used for the Phantom, Cullinan and Ghost (and Coachbuild projects). It was conceived with much forward thinking because electric drive was a fundamental consideration from the start.
However, it is only now that electric drive technology is advanced enough to fulfil the Rolls-Royce experience. The introduction of a fully-electric powertrain and Decentralised Intelligence into the marque’s portfolio ensures the continuity of experience from its current portfolio.
584 ps/900 Nm with two motors
Rolls-Royce doesn’t go into great detail about the powertrain but highlights the numbers that customers will be interested in. The electric powertrain has 2 motors which, in performance terms, deliver the equivalent to an internal combustion engine of 430 kW (584 ps) with 900 Nm of torque. This can send the Spectre from 0 – 100 km/h in a claimed 4.5 seconds.
Power comes from a 102 kWh lithium-ion battery pack which accounts for 24% of the kerb weight of a standard Spectre. With consumption rated at 23.6 – 22.2 kWh per 100 kms, the claimed range is up to 530 kms.
Enough range for customers
In establishing an appropriate range for the Spectre, the company spoke to its customers to understand their requirements and how they use their cars. This then gave the engineers a target and 530 kms is said to go beyond their requirements. Rolls-Royce also notes that most of its customers have, on average, more than 7 cars in their garage to choose from for any occasion, and they drive an average of 5,100 kms a year (in their Rolls-Royce).
Charging a fully empty battery to 100% with AC 22 kW power supply will take 5.5 hours. It is possible to recharge even with a 9.6 kW single-phase outlet but that will probably take ‘forever’. Most owners are likely to have a dedicated charging point in their homes which would likely be 22 kW.
With a 195 kW DC fast-charger, the time is said to be 34 minutes from 10% – 80%. If in a hurry, every 9 minutes of charging can provide 100 kms of range.
Haute couture, sculpture, art – and yachts
The Spectre’s exterior form draws inspiration from worlds far beyond automotive, including haute couture, modernist sculpture, nautical design, tailoring and contemporary art. In particular, there are elements related to modern racing yacht styling.
The familiar upright Pantheon grille is the widest ever fitted to a Rolls-Royce. The polished stainless-steel vanes are smooth and flush-fitting, softly illuminated with 22 LEDs lighting up the sandblasted rear surface, creating a subtle 3-dimensional signature at night.
The Spirit of Ecstasy figurine, another familiar element, looks no different from the one on other models. However, it was specially created for Spectre. With a lower stance and more aerodynamic profile, perfected over 830 hours of design modelling and wind-tunnel testing, it contributes to the car’s drag coefficient of just 0.25 Cd, making Spectre the most aerodynamic Rolls-Royce ever built.
The split headlights have been a signature Rolls-Royce feature for many years, and are a direct visual reference to the Phantom Coupe. The sharp, vertical bow line draws the eye rearward to the fastback, which is inspired by both classic motorcars and racing yachts.
Following the roofline back, the tail lamps are set into the largest single body panel ever produced for a Rolls-Royce, which extends from the A-pillar to the luggage compartment. In anticipation of a variety of Bespoke exterior colour commissions, the rear lamps are colourless for neutrality.
Largest doors ever on a Rolls-Royce
At almost 1.5 metres in length, the Spectre’s laser-welded pillarless coach doors are the largest ever fitted to a Rolls-Royce. Made from 100% aluminium to reduce weight without compromising rigidity and strength, they are equipped with a specially developed Effortless Doors power-assisted system for opening as well as closing. In a feature unique to the Spectre, the driver’s door closes automatically when the driver presses the brake pedal.
Beneath the cabin, the suspension is an evolution of the Planar System first seen on the Ghost. It is described as ‘an orchestra of systems’, which combines specially developed hardware and the Spectre’s high-speed processing capabilities to deliver the hallmark ‘magic carpet ride’.
The Spectre’s 30% greater torsional rigidity negates the need for the upper wishbone damper used in the Ghost. On straight roads, the system can automatically decouple Spectre’s anti-roll bars, allowing each wheel to act independently. This prevents the rocking motion that occurs when one side of a vehicle hits an undulation in the road, and dramatically reduces high-frequency disturbances caused by smaller, repeated surface defects.
When the system detects a corner, it recouples the components and stiffens the damper, and prepares to activate the 4-wheel steering system to ensure effortless entry and exit. During cornering, individual sensors monitor almost 20 different steering, braking, power delivery and suspension parameters, and adjust them automatically to maintain perfect tracking and stability.
Incidentally, this is the first production Rolls-Royce 2-door coupe to be equipped with 23-inch wheels in almost 100 years. The standard sizes of the Pirelli P Zero are 255/40 in front and 295/35 at the rear.
Technologically advanced Bespoke features
The interior contains a wealth of technologically advanced Bespoke features but what you see in the pictures is the ‘basic’ models. The Bespoke department will personalise the car to whatever a customer desires so each Spectre will be ‘one-of-a-kind’. Customers have a vast range of wood, leather and other trim as well as various features that can be installed or custom-made.
For the first time on a series production Rolls-Royce, these include Starlight Doors, which incorporate 4,796 softly illuminated ‘stars’. This is a follow-on from the extraordinary Starlight Headliner on the ceiling which can create a night sky overhead with fibreoptic points of light.
The ethereal, celestial theme continues with an Illuminated Fascia. Developed over the course of 2 years and more than 10,000 collective hours, it incorporates the Spectre nameplate surrounded by a cluster of over 5,500 stars. Located on the passenger side of the dashboard, the illuminations are completely invisible when the car is not in operation.