The Spectre is Rolls-Royce’s first electric car

29th September 2021
Bob Murray

A hundred and twenty years after Charles Rolls and Henry Royce dreamed of it, the first electric Rolls-Royce drives out of the Goodwood firm’s gates and hits the road today. For CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös, it is “the most significant day in the history of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars since 4th May, 1904” – the day the company was founded.


The debut battery-powered super-luxury model is to be called the Rolls-Royce Spectre. No James Bond jokes please. It is the first time in eons that a name with no historical connections for the brand has joined the range, emphasising that this is very much a new beginning.

You see the car here, two years ahead of first customer deliveries, not as a concept or prototype but as the first pre-production test car. As Müller-Ötvös tells us: “It’s the real thing”.

This is not a full unveiling of the Spectre, though. There’s still a large element of tease about the design in the few slogan-plastered images that Rolls-Royce has so far made available.


One of those slogans on the car’s flanks – “perfectly noiseless and clean” ­– was how Charles Rolls summed up electric cars over a century ago. Rolls-Royce is keen for us to see both Rolls and Royce as electric-car luminaries and the Spectre as the fulfilment of its founding father’s electric-car prophecy.

So what can we discern from the pictures that Rolls-Royce, so far, isn’t telling us? It’s clearly a Rolls-Royce – see the Spirit of Ecstasy mascot up front – but one with relatively compact dimensions and sporting character, witness the sloping, coupe-style roofline. Most surprising, it appears to be a two-door, with coach (rear-hinged) doors. Like a Wraith then? ­Rolls-Royce is not saying.

Unlike the current Wraith, which is unique in being the only model to use the BMW-derived platform of the first-gen Ghost, under the Spectre’s bodywork is the brand’s own scalable aluminium spaceframe that is already the basis of the Phantom, Cullinan and new Ghost.


This new architecture was developed from the start for battery-electric power, as Müller-Ötvös says: “Free of any group platform sharing strategy, we were able to integrate our plans for an electric powertrain into the architecture’s initial design and ensure that this extraordinary new product meets the extremely high expectations of our clients.”

How much power will the Spectre have? There’s no info on that yet, and the two previous battery-powered one-offs – the electric Phantom 102EX from 2011 and the wildly futuristic 103EX from 2016 – provide few clues on that score, although as experimental test-beds both apparently have been useful in the Spectre’s development.

If the Spectre were to fill the Wraith’s shoes one day it would have a lot to live up to: powered by the firm’s monster 6.6-litre twin-turbo V12 churning out up to 632PS (465kW), the most sporting Rolls-Royce can despatch 0-62mph in 4.4 seconds.


Beyond performance, an electric Rolls-Royce promises much in terms of silent operation, instant torque and the absence of exhaust fumes, as Charles Rolls identified 120 years ago and the chief executive confirms today:

“Electric drive is uniquely and perfectly suited to Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, more so than any other automotive brand. It is silent, refined and creates torque almost instantly, what we at Rolls-Royce call ‘waftability’.”

But before the world’s super-luxury elite can all start silently wafting around there’s two years of hard graft to get the car sorted: Rolls-Royce says the Spectre will be subject to the most demanding testing programme in the company’s history. Testing starts now, “in plain sight” as Müller-Ötvös puts it, over 1.5 million miles around the world.

The Rolls-Royce Spectre will lead the way to the complete electrification of all Rolls-Royce models by 2030 – V12 to battery power in one jump, with no interim hybrid stage. Müller-Ötvös tells us: “By 2030 Rolls-Royce will no longer be in the business of producing or selling any internal combustion engine products.”

First deliveries of the Spectre are expected in the fourth quarter of 2023. Get ready for the ultimate waft!

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