Monday, February 28, 2011

Geneva Preshow: Rolls-Royce 102EX EV Study Might Just have the Largest Passenger Car the World

Rolls-Royce has pulled the wraps off the next vehicle in its EX concept series, the 102EX (AKA Phantom Experimental Electric). The 102EX is meant to gauge reactions and opinions from the firm's clientele, shareholders, and the general public in regards to a Roller with a non-traditional drive train. As the 102EX is strictly a concept, Rolls-Royce hopes to resolve any issues that people might have with an all-electric - or any non-traditionally powered - Rolls.

Going back to the RR playbook, customers are the most important people to the Spirit of Ecstasy. Therefore, the manufacturer wants to be sure that expectations are met, not too much extra effort has to be put into ownership ("acceptable range...without frequent recharging"), and a proper Rolls-Royce ownership experience is provided.

Using the Phantom's aluminum spaceframe as a base, Rolls-Royce engineers have installed two electric motors (145 kW each) and a lithium-battery pack in the 102EX. The pack uses five lithium-cobalt-manganese-oxide (or NCM) "pouch cells" sized at four, eight, ten, thirty-six, and thirty-eight cells in a formation that mimics the shape of the usual engine and transmission.

Charging is performed by three individual 3kW chargers that allow for both single-phase and three-phase charging at 20 hours and 8 hours, respectively. Rolls is also trying out induction charging, which uses a giant transfer pad on the floor and an induction pad under the car (like those Powermat phone chargers).

All told, the electric setup provides the 102EX with 290 kW (389HP) and 800 Nm of torque (versus 338 kW or 453HP and 750 Nm in the standard Phantom). Current estimates put the 102EX's range at 200 kilometers (124 miles) with the ability to reach 60 mph (96 km/h) in under 8 seconds (5.7 seconds for the V12 Phantom) and a limited top speed of 99 mph (160 km/h).

Trying not to sway too far from expectations, the 102EX will retain many standard Roll-Royce features while applying new ideas that represent the car's electric heart.

Its exterior is finished in four coats of Atlantic Chrome, a shade of paint that uses ceramic nano particles to provide a unique reflective surface. Also, the nose-mounted Spirit of Ecstasy is now made of Makrolon (not stainless steel) and will glow. The fuel cap has been modified to provide a charging point with LED indicators that show current charge status such as blue (initial stage), flashing blue (charging), green (fully charged), flashing green (when the charging solenoid is removed). Red or flashing red indicates a problem in the system.

Atlantic Chrome also finds its way to the interior, where the car's gauges have been modified to provide the electric drive train's information; examples include gauges for battery charge level, power reserve, etc. To make things even more convenient, there is a switch in the front center armrest that controls charging and houses a readout showing the car's charge status.

Now, to the luxury feel; the interior wears Corinova leather, which uses a "natural vegetable tanning process" and is 100% chrome-free and uses an aluminized foil weave instead of wood.

Scroll on down for more pictures, and don't forget to check back for live shots from the 2011 Geneva Motor Show.

By Phil Alex



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