Friday, September 22, 2023

Rolls-Royce announces 2024 Specter electric ‘super coupe’ with 260-mile range

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Rolls-Royce unveiled its first all-electric vehicle, the 2024 Specter, an ultra-luxury coupe with an estimated range of 460 miles and a price tag that will make even the richest people choke on their tea. For those who can afford it, the Specter is expected to make its first customer deliveries by the end of 2023.

The Specter marks the first step towards a fully electrified Rolls-Royce lineup, which the company has said will reach by 2030. That contrasts with the company’s parent company, BMW, which has yet to indicate when it expects to move into 100 percent EV sales. (Mini, another BMW brand, has also said it would be fully electric by the end of the decade.)

The Specter marks the first step towards a fully electrified Rolls-Royce line-up

In some ways the Specter is no different from other luxury coupes from Rolls-Royce: long hood, slender roofline, pillarless doors – all well-known designs. But a quick look beneath the surface reveals that the Specter is unique in the legendary British carmaker’s range thanks to its lithium-ion battery-powered architecture.

But this is more of a design announcement than a full description of the Specter’s underlying powertrain. Rolls-Royce says most of the relevant specs, including range, acceleration and battery capacity, are still being “refined” and more details will be released at a later date.

Rolls-Royce also didn’t disclose the price of the Specter, but did confirm that it would fall somewhere between the Cullinan SUV (which starts at $327,750) and Phantom ($458,000). Given the rising price of battery materials and the total cost associated with building an entirely new vehicle, it makes sense that the Specter will likely land closer to the Phantom than the Cullinan.

The automaker did say that the Specter is expected to reach a range of “up to” 260 miles, offer 664 pound-feet of torque from its 577 horsepower drivetrain, and go from zero to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds. That puts it somewhere between the Audi E-tron S and Polestar 2 in terms of power and acceleration — and well behind other ultra-fast EVs like the Tesla Model S Plaid, Porsche Taycan and Lucid Air.

But what the Specter lacks in dazzling, it more than makes up for in exaggerated proportions, powerful technology and luxurious accessories. The two-door, four-seat coupe will be 214.6-inches long with a 126-4-inch wheelbase – slightly more compact than the Rolls-Royce Phantom on which the Specter is based. But what it lacks in length, it makes up for in size: at 81.8 inches wide, the Specter will be one of the most comprehensive models in Rolls-Royce’s lineup.

Zero to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds

Indeed, the Specter will ride on the same platform as the Phantom and the Cullinan, the automaker’s SUV, but the fastback-style rear is more like the Wraith. The overall proportions are so, well, indulgent that Rolls-Royce says it was forced to run really big 23-inch wheels, which certainly improves the stance and ride quality, but will eventually diminish the desired range. The Specter is distinguished by Rolls-Royce’s first two-door coupe in over 100 years on 23-inch wheels.

To appropriately emphasize that waistline, the front is capped by the “widest grille ever bestowed on a Rolls-Royce.” There are also many interesting lighting features around the vehicle, including 22 LEDs in the grille and a series of starlight-like arrays embedded in the vehicle’s door and headliner.

As with everything Rolls-Royce, you can expect a particularly comfortable and highly tuned driving experience in the Specter. The EV will be the latest in the carmaker’s lineup with a set of features that Rolls-Royce calls its Planar Suspension, which the company calls its “magic carpet ride.” First deployed on the Ghost 2021, the Planar Suspension is a combination of hardware and software that enables ‘precisely defined responses to driver input and road conditions’.

The “widest grille ever bestowed on a Rolls-Royce”

Basically, it uses the mass of the vehicle to dampen small and high-frequency vibrations from the road. Disengaging the car’s anti-roll bars allows each wheel to work independently, avoiding the rocking motion that occurs when one side of a vehicle hits a undulation in the road. When approaching a bend, the Planar system re-engages the components and stiffens the shock absorbers, while also engaging the car’s four-wheel steering. Rolls-Royce calls it ‘effortless control’.

Inside the vehicle, the Specter will run on a digital platform that Rolls-Royce says is the most connected in its history. The automaker’s engineers tested the Specter on 2.5 kilometers (1.5 million miles) of road to ensure the vehicle can respond to data related to “climate, driving speed, road type, vehicle status and driving style”.

When it arrives, the Specter will compete with other luxury EVs to capture the attention of that subset of car buyers with ample bank accounts. Fortunately, Rolls-Royce seems positioned to beat many of its competitors in the market. Other luxury car manufacturers, such as Aston Martin and Bentley, won’t have EVs until a few years after the Specter is released. And it’s unclear how much crossover there is between Italian sports car makers like Ferrari and Lamborghini and the more sophisticated buyers of Rolls-Royce.

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