Rolls Royce 102EX

Finding the Middle Ground to Excellence

We at ArabWheels had the opportunity in October to experiment with the new Rolls Royce 102EX at the Dubai Autodrome. 2011 marks another 100 years in Rolls Royce Motor Cars; this is why the 102EX has been one of the most significant projects taken by the Rolls Royce recently. What is it all about? It is the world’s first battery electric vehicle for the ultra-luxury segment.

 

The 102EX is also known as the Phantom Experimental Electric (EE). But based on Mr. James Crichton, MENA Regional Director and Mr. David Monks, Electronics Engineer, there are no plans to build a production version of this car. It is a demo vehicle designed to explore established the technologies offered and to pose as well as a global debate. 

The Vehicle

The Phantom EE features aluminum space frame which is important to dynamic prowess, as well as the sense of calm and tranquility enjoyed by occupants. The naturally aspirated 6.75 liter V12 petrol engine and 6-speed gearbox have been replaced by a lithium ion battery pack and two electric motors mounted on the rear sub-frame. These motors are connected to a single speed transmission with integrated differential.

Each motor gives 800 Nm of torque over a wide band compared to the standard Phantom with a maximum torque of 720 Nm.

The Nickel Cobalt Manganese battery chemistry holds around 230 Wh/kg, a high energy density which is important in achieving an acceptable range between re-charges. The Phantom EE should run to a range of up to 200km delivering a power output of 290kW. Delivered on an effortless wave of torque, 0-100 is achieved in less than eight seconds (5.7 seconds in standard Phantom) with top speed limited to 160 kph.

The Exterior Spirit

The 102EX Spirit sits atop the radiator grille above the red double-R badge applied to EX models. Made of Makrolon, rather than stainless steel, it will be bathed in blue LED light, hinting at the electric technology beneath the bonnet.

The Drive

On the Autodrome we drove the 102EX. Believe it or not the car doesn’t have any sound at all. But when I got into the driver’s seat to test it I could hardly recognize that the car’s engine was on. I cruised at maximum 120 kph in the circuit. But when I reached the final curve and took the last straight line I turned off the A/C and on my first impression was shock. I never thought that Rolls Royce would reach that stage in developing a huge car without the growling of an engine when idle. On the straight line I felt like I was in an airplane, about to take off. Then I got into the pit lane and took the normal petrol powered engine out. Both the 102EX and the Phantom have quiet engines. But the difference is when I took the straight line as the car took time to sprint fast. When you push the gas pedal you hear the 6.75 L roaring engine under the hood. In my opinion, the only sound heard in the 102EX was the sound of the wind on the side mirrors.

Verdict

But my overall question remains: Why would Rolls Royce develop such a car? The customers who will opt for a Rolls Royce don’t care about the fuel issue. Saving the environment probably? Is a production of a small Rolls Royce similar to Aston Martin Cygnet not feasible?

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