Rolls-Royce customers want V12s, not hybrids

ROLLS-ROYCE customers are not making demands for hybrid technology despite the spread of electric drivetrains across all other automotive segments and price points, the British luxury brand says.

Speaking to Wheels at the 2015 Shanghai motor show, Asia-Pacific regional director Paul Harris said the Rolls-Royce Phantom 102EX concept proved an invaluable indication of what its customers wanted.

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“Rolls-Royce lends itself to electric vehicles particularly because, one, it's generally silent, and secondly, it's really short journey stuff and special occasions," said Harris.

The 102EX was an “experimental electric” version of the maker's flagship Phantom model, a sedan that is normally powered by a 6.75-litre V12 producing 338kW and, in Australia, a million-dollar price tag once on the road. As well as the electric drivetrain, the EX102 featured a blue-lit polycarbonate Spirit of Ecstasy emblem rather than the traditonal stainless steel one.

The V12 engine officially uses 14.8L/100km, with carbon dioxide emissions capped at 347g/km ─ by comparison, the figures for the 335kW supercharged 5.0-litre V8 engine under the bonnet of the XR8-badged Falcon are 13.7L/100km and 324g/km.

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For the 102EX, the V12 was replaced with a lithium-ion battery pack and two 145kW electric motors driving a single speed gearbox, but EV tech is not about to make production.

“From that point of view, that experiment was very interesting because we effectively got a polarisation of our clients; they liked it, but they didn't want to give up V12," Harris said. "In our segment, in terms of CO2, we're quite competitive."

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That means a hybrid version of the forthcoming Rolls-Royce SUV that was confirmed earlier in 2015 is no longer on the cards.

“I think what will drive it will be influences outside of our control ─ legislative changes ─ and if that were to happen it's something that we would have to seriously consider. But at the moment, V12 is our heartland, it's what we do, and what we do best.”

In 2014, Rolls-Royce set its fifth consecutive annual record with 4063 sales. Its biggest market was the US, followed by China.  

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