Rolls-Royce owners have given a resounding no to the suggestion of an electric-powered Roller. And they don't want smaller engines either.
"Customers tell us, 'Do not mess with the 12-cylinder engine,'" Rolls CEO Torsten Mueller-Oetvoes said last week at the New York auto show. "It is their Holy Grail, and they love it."
The only powerplant Rolls-Royce uses for its flagship Phantom and the smaller Ghost sedan is a 12-cylinder, 6.75-liter behemoth.
Rolls-Royce showed a concept car with an electric drivetrain to more than 500 customers during a world tour last year. Resoundingly, Rolls owners said an eight-hour charge time and the 120-mile range were "unacceptable," said Mueller-Oetvoes.
"I can imagine something that combines electric and combustion engines, like a plug-in hybrid," he said. "We do not yet have any plans in our hands, but it is something we are currently looking into."
If it decides to offer a hybrid, Rolls-Royce could use technology from its parent BMW Group, he said.
Several large luxury sedans, including the BMW 7 series, Mercedes-Benz S class and the Audi A8, will have hybrid models soon. But Mueller-Oetvoes said: "They are all really niche products -- very, very niche."