Rolls-Royce Spectre: “electric super coupe” snapped testing ahead of 2023 debut

The British luxury-car brand will become electric-only by 2030, with deliveries of its first zero-emissions coupe set to begin by winter 2023

Rolls-Royce Spectre

Rolls-Royce has released new teaser images of its first electric car – the Spectre – showing the luxury coupe EV testing in Arjeplog, Sweden, near the Arctic Circle, where the temperature can reach minus 40 degrees Celsius.

Putting the “electric super coupe” through its paces in such extreme weather conditions allows Rolls-Royce to evaluate how the car’s systems function in the cold, as well as to conduct noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) tests, as the freezing temperatures can affecting materials, major components and bonding agents in the car.

A quarter of the Spectre’s global testing has now been completed, according to Rolls-Royce, with prototypes of the car expected to cover 2.5 million kilometres in total, simulating 400 years of real-world use, by the time it’s unveiled sometime in 2023. First customer deliveries will begin in the fourth quarter of that year.

The British marque has also revealed that the Spectre will use its own aluminium spaceframe architecture that underpins the Phantom flagship saloon. The battery location this architecture allows for means it can be used as 700kg of sound-deadening, thanks to the wiring and piping channels running between the floor of the car and the top of the battery.

In terms of design, the Spectre is seen by Rolls-Royce as the spiritual successor to the Phantom Coupe that was produced from 2008 to 2016. We can see from the latest pictures that it also bears a striking resemblance to the now-discontinued Wraith coupe. Both feature a similarly tapered rear deck, while the brand’s iconic grille and split headlight design have been carried over as well. The Spectre will be offered with 23-inch alloy wheels, too.

One design element that has been updated for the Spectre is the iconic Spirit of Ecstasy bonnet ornament, which is now more aerodynamic. Rolls-Royce dedicated 830 combined hours to creating the new aero-optimised iteration of the 111-year-old figurine.

Every figure destined to sit atop the Spectre’s bonnet will still be produced using the same methods Rolls-Royce has for over a century. The mascots will be cast using wax moulds, with the finer details and polishing done by hand, making each one unique.

The redesigned Spirit of Ecstasy is a relatively small component of the Spectre's design, which, according to Rolls-Royce, is the most aerodynamically efficient car it has ever made. The brand says the electric coupe will have a drag coefficient of 0.26Cd or better, which is only slightly higher than the Audi e-tron GT saloon.

However, other than the few details we mentioned above, Rolls-Royce has yet to disclose any specifics about the Spectre, including its battery size, number of electric motors or any range or performance estimates. However, if the Spectre were to use the same dual-motor powertrain and 105.2kWh battery as the BMW iX and impending BMW i7 limousine, we expect it would return around 300 miles on a charge and potentially make up to 600bhp.

Rolls-Royce’s history with EVs

Rolls-Royce has some form when it comes to battery-electric vehicles (BEVs), given the company founders' passion for electric cars. Sir Henry Royce supposedly considered fitting an electric powertrain in its first cars – although elected not to due to range and charging issues at the time. Charles Rolls acknowledged the advantages of an electric powertrain in 1900, saying: “The electric car is perfectly noiseless and clean. There is no smell or vibration, and they should become very useful when fixed charging stations can be arranged.”

In addition, Rolls-Royce has dipped a toe in these waters before: 10 years ago, the brand took the wraps off the 102EX (pictured above), also known as the Phantom EE (Experimental Electric): a prototype zero-emissions version of what was then its flagship limousine.

In place of the 6.75-litre V12 found in the petrol-powered Phantom at the time was a 71kWh battery and two electric motors powering the rear wheels, producing 389bhp and 800Nm of torque. But while the electric Phantom prototype was an impressive concept at a time when many brands were yet to jump on the EV bandwagon, it could only cover 124 miles on a charge and the battery had a lifespan of just three years.

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