Rolls-Royce developing EV, possibly as replacement for Wraith/Dawn

It’s all or nothing at Rolls-Royce. The maker of some of the most opulent cars on the road says it has no plans to equip its vehicles with plug-in hybrid power, but will eventually have no choice but to offer battery-electric setups.

In fact, an electric Rolls-Royce is already being developed. It will be introduced later this decade, CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös told Automotive News (subscription required) in an interview published last week.

Rolls-Royce tested the market for interest in an EV as early as 2011 when it sent its 102EX electric Phantom on a world tour. Rolls-Royce abandoned plans for a production version citing a lack of interest.

It’s a stance the automaker says is true even today, though regulatory requirements means the automaker must react. There are plans already in place to ban vehicles with zero-emission modes from some city centers around the end of the decade.

“There is no demand from customers (for an EV) but we need to be in a position to sell them a car if legislation forbids them from driving a combustion-engine car into the center of a city,” a Rolls-Royce spokesman told Automotive News.

The aluminum space-frame platform that debuted in the latest Phantom has been engineered with electric powertrains in mind, so it’s plausible that all vehicles based on the platform, a list that includes the Cullinan SUV and latest Ghost, could also be offered with electric power.

However, Rolls-Royce executives have hinted to Automotive News that the first EV could be a new model to replace the Wraith coupe and Dawn convertible, both of which reach the end of their life cycles in the coming years.

While Rolls-Royce continues to insist there aren’t any customers interested in EVs, there’s already a company building and selling electric Rolls-Royces. Fellow British firm Lunaz is rebuilding classic Rolls-Royce models from the ground up and swapping their powertrains for electric setups. Its first is a stunning 1961 Rolls-Royce Phantom.

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