By Steve Hanley
Until now, the official position at Rolls Royce has been that electric cars are something for other companies to build. But the burden of new European Union emissions rules are forcing the staid old automaker (now owned by not-so-staid BMW) to rethink its position. Speaking to the press at the Frankfurt Motor Show, Torsten Muller-Otvos, head of the BMW division that owns Rolls Royce, said, “Suppose we find a battery technology that can offer ranges that are acceptable to our customers.” In that case, he told Automotive News, “I can definitely imagine a fully electric Rolls-Royce.”
That will be a neat trick, Torsten. A Rolls Royce weighs close to three tons and that’s before you load two people, all their luggage, a Sony, and a bottle of Grey Poupon into it. Moving that much bulk down the highway will require enough batteries for your typical Peterbilt. It can be done, of course. The Tesla Model X will have a gross vehicle weight rating of 6,300 lbs of so and can tow a 5,000 lb trailer as well (although, not very far.)
The big problem, as Rolls Royce sees it, is a woeful lack of charging infrastructure in the UK and on the Continent. That may change come 2017, according to Jean Pierre Diernaz, electric vehicle director of Nissan’s European unit. That’s when a “safety net” of charging networks will be in place, he says. But that’s a little optimistic, isn’t it, Jean Pierre?
Tesla has just announced that its destination chargers will soon be available across Europe. No other manufacturer has anything as ambitious as the Tesla SuperCharger network. It’s hard to image Rolls Royce customers will be content to run an extension cord out the window of their Motel 6 while they dine on caviar and champagne within.
If Rolls Royce ever builds an electric car, it will be years from now — at the earliest.
For some previous related coverage, be sure to see: