Rolls-Royce boss says plug-in hybrid tech ‘essential’

Electric Rolls Royce Phantom 102EX
5 Mar, 2014 10:38am Paul Bond

Brit luxury marque won't let failure of all-electric 100EX Phantom stop it developing a zero-emission model

Despite experimenting with an all-electric concept a few years ago, Rolls-Royce now looks likely to adopt plug-in hybrid technology within the next three years.

Boss of the brand Torsten Müller-Otvos told Auto Express on the firm's Geneva show stand that “It will be essential in two years, maybe not from customer demand but through legal regulation on emissions”

Explaining why the electric 100EX Phantom never took off, he said “We showed that car to around 100 customers around world, and the reaction we got was ambivalent.” He told us, continuing “A Rolls-Royce cannot come with any kind of compromise, and both the recharging times and the range were not acceptable for our buyers – but with hybrid technology that is no longer a problem.”

With parent company BMW already working on plug-in hybrid technology that is soon to be launched on the X5 eDrive – which uses a four-cylinder turbo paired with an electric motor – Rolls-Royce could soon have access to such a powetrain.

Müller-Otvos said: “We are now a completely self-sustaining business, but technology like this is so expensive to develop that without BMW, Rolls-Royce would probably not have survived.”

When asked whether the next-generation Phantom would increase in price to around £450,000 to reflect the increased cost of this kind of technology, he told us: “It is never a question of not having enough to afford a Rolls-Royce, but our customers are shrewd business people, and they want to know what they are getting for their money. For that reason I think for the next car we will stay in the same position in the market – which has been so successful for us so far.”