The first electric car from Rolls-Royce has two doors and is longer than the Cadillac Escalade | CNN Business



CNN Business

Rolls-Royce will start production of its first electric car next year. It only has two doors but is longer than a full-size SUV. Among its endless options, the Specter will be starred in the doors.

The British luxury car brand has for years been offering a feature called the Starlight Headliner, which fills the roof with an array of thousands of tiny bulbs. The lights, which are actually the ends of fiber-optic cables, appear random but are actually arranged to look like the night sky over Goodwood, UK, the site of the Rolls-Royce factory. With the Specter, Rolls-Royce is adding this feature to the interior doors which will have an additional 5,876 “stars” so that occupants are completely surrounded by bright spots of light.

Also, although it doesn’t need the same amount of air as Rolls-Royce’s V12-powered cars, the Specter will have the largest grille ever in a Rolls-Royce model. However, the Specter is Rolls-Royce’s most aerodynamic yet, according to the company, which claims the car’s drag coefficient of 0.25. This is fairly neat, but only in the ballpark among modern electric cars.

Even an electric Rolls-Royce could hardly go without the grille, although the tombstone’s straight metal plate is among the most popular in the industry.

“The Specter, despite the importance of the Silver Ghost, has been for us for many years, entering a new era for the all-electric brand by 2030,” said Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös. Interview with CNN Business. “So we want to make sure that this car really fits and is in place and that it’s a perfect fit and perfect Rolls-Royce.”

The star-lit roof effect that's an option on other Rolls-Royces vehicles extends to the Specter's door linings.

The Silver Ghost, which first entered production in 1906, is the car that cemented Rolls-Royce’s reputation as the pinnacle of automotive quality.

The Specter shares its basic core chassis with gas-powered Rolls-Royce models: the Phantom sedan, Ghost and Cullinan SUV. This follows the strategy of BMW, the parent company of Rolls-Royce, which also relies on flexible engineering that can be used to build both gasoline-powered and electric cars.

In traditional Rolls-Royce style, the two Specter doors are hinged at the back and open to the rear. (On four-door Rolls-Royce models, only the rear doors open this way.) Because of its size and breadth, Roll-Royce calls the Specter a “super coupe.” It’s about six inches longer and five inches wider than the latest Rolls-Royce Coupe, the Wraith, which went out of production earlier this year. It’s also about 2.5 inches longer than the Cadillac Escalade SUV, and a bit wider. The four-wheel steering should help the big car feel smarter in tight corners.

According to Rolls-Royce, the car’s overall tapered shape was influenced by yachts, a theme similar to that of another Rolls-Royce that may be the most expensive car ever built. Last year, the brand unveiled a convertible called the Boat Tail, only three of which were built with an estimated price tag of $25 million each.

While many electric cars have very large touchscreens and rely on them for many interior controls, the Specter will rely more on physical controls, says Müller-Ötvös. There will be screens, he said, but their use will be too little.

The Specter’s 6,659 pounds gross weight — about 600 pounds more than the Cullinan SUV — includes more than 1,500 pounds of sound insulation to ensure the perfect Rolls-Royce level of quietness. Automakers usually try to conserve weight when making electric cars to offset the mass added by the batteries themselves. But for Rolls-Royce, weight was never a major issue. Its cars are expected to be huge in the literal sense of the word.

The 557-horsepower car will go from zero to 60 mph in about 4.4 seconds and will be able to drive 260 miles before needing a recharge. Müller-Ötvös insists that will suffice.

“We would never compromise the experience of the car or the look of the car just for the sake of the range,” he said.

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