Rolls-Royce will start production of its first electric car next year. It has only two doors but is longer than a full-size SUV. And among its innumerable options, the Spectre will be offered with stars in the doors.
The British ultra-luxury car brand has for years offered a feature called the “Starlight Headliner,” filling the ceiling with an array of thousands of tiny lights. The lights, which are actually the tips of fiber-optic cables, look random but are, in fact, arranged to look like the night sky over Goodwood, UK, the location of the Rolls-Royce factory. With the Spectre, Rolls-Royce is adding this feature to the insides of the doors which will have an additional 5,876 “stars” so occupants are fully surrounded by glittering points of light.
Also, despite not needing nearly as much air as Rolls-Royce’s V12-powered cars, the Spectre will have the widest grille ever seen on a Rolls-Royce model. Still, the Spectre is the most aerodynamic Rolls-Royce yet, according to the company, which claims the car has a drag coefficient of 0.25. That’s fairly sleek, but just in the ballpark among modern electric cars.
Even an electric Rolls-Royce could hardly go without the grille, though, since the upright, tombstone-shaped slab of metal slats is among the most genuinely iconic in the industry.
The “Spectre is for us, as important as Silver Ghost might have been many, many years ago and it is the entry into a new era for the brand going full electric by 2030,” Rolls-Royce chief executive Torsten Müller-Ötvös said in an interview with CNN Business. “So, we want to make sure that this car is really right and spot on and is a proper, perfect Rolls Royce.”
The Silver Ghost, which first went into production in 1906, is regarded as the car that established Rolls-Royce’s reputation as a pinnacle of automotive quality.
The Spectre shares its basic underlying structure with Rolls-Royce’s gas-powered models: the Phantom and Ghost sedans and the Cullinan SUV. This follows the strategy of Rolls-Royce’s parent company, BMW, which also relies on flexible engineering that can be used to build both gasoline and electric cars.
In traditional Rolls-Royce fashion, the Spectre’s two doors are hinged in the back and open rearward. (In four-door Rolls-Royce models, only the back doors open this way.) Because of its size and roominess, Roll-Royce calls the Spectre a “super coupé.” It’s about six inches longer and five inches wider than the last Rolls-Royce coupé, the Wraith, which went out of production earlier this year. It’s also about 2.5 inches longer than a Cadillac Escalade SUV, and slightly wider. Four-wheel steering should help the big car feel more nimble in tight corners.
The car’s overall tapered shape was influenced by yachts, according to Rolls-Royce, a theme similar to that of another recent Rolls-Royce that may be the most expensive car ever made. Last year, the brand unveiled a convertible called the Boat Tail, of which only three were built at an estimated price of $25 million each.
While many electric cars have extremely large touch screens and rely on them for many internal controls, the Spectre will rely more on physical controls, Müller-Ötvös said. There will be screens, but their use will be more understated, he said.
The Spectre’s total weight of 6,659 pounds — about 600 pounds more than a Cullinan SUV — includes more than 1,500 pound of sound-deadening insulation to ensure the ideal Rolls-Royce level of quiet. Usually automakers try to conserve weight when making electric cars to make up for all the mass the batteries themselves add. But, for Rolls-Royce, weight has never been a major issue. Its cars are expected to be, quite literally, massive.
The 557 horsepower car will be able to go from zero to 60 miles an hour in about 4.4 seconds and will be able drive about 260 miles before needing to recharge. That, Müller-Ötvös insists, will be enough.
“We would never compromise the experience of the car or the looks of the car just purely for range,” he said.