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Driving the Curiously Discreet Rolls-Royce Spectre EV

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A few years before Charles Rolls met his future business partner, Henry Royce, he went on the record about the potential of electric propulsion. Yep, back in 1900, electrification was very much on the cards, and one half of what would become the world’s pioneering automotive luxury brand was fully on board with the idea—until the oil business did its nefarious thing and steered the new-fangled motor industry toward petrol. 

To be clear, the lead acid batteries in those days were huge and not especially efficient, and Rolls had his doubts about the infrastructure that would be required. That remains an issue 120 years later, depending on where in the world you happen to be, but it’s one that most likely won’t trouble the owner of a new Rolls-Royce Spectre. Because, as Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös tells WIRED, the average Rolls client has seven cars in their garage. In a life enviably awash in luxury, being able to flit between the Ferrari, Range Rover, or electric Rolls-Royce is merely one of the day’s less taxing decisions. A car to fit every occasion, then. 

Photograph: Mark Fagelson/Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

The Spectre has been a long time coming. The company dabbled with a BEV back in 2011, but while the Phantom one-off may have offered proof of concept, it also had a negligible sub-100-mile real world range. In 2016, the full quota of brave pills resulted in the visually outstanding, outlandish 103 EX concept. Only now, says Müller-Ötvös, are the worlds of Rolls-Royce and electrification finally converging. The Spectre is the result. 

It’s a giant four-seater super-coupe, effectively replacing the old Phantom Coupe (now an appreciating asset) and the smaller Wraith. Rolls has successfully reduced the age of its average customer from 56 to 42 during the past decade, a demographic repositioning assisted by the boom in the tech sector and the popularity of the brand among hip-hop’s leading lights. The Spectre will only accelerate that, for this is arguably the most handsome car the company has made since the company’s late-’90s acquisition by BMW. 

Silent Running

Photograph: Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

It’s a huge statement, in every sense, measuring 5 meters in length and sitting 2 meters wide. From behind the wheel, the super-yacht parallel is clear: You don’t drive a Rolls-Royce so much as issue commands from the cockpit and chart a course past the little people. A degree of chutzpah is needed here for sure.

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