LONDON -- Rolls-Royce is developing a standalone electric car to prepare for the closing of some city centers to combustion engine cars.
At least 20 major cities globally have said they plan to ban diesel or gasoline-powered vehicles from their centers by 2030.
Rolls-Royce will offer the first full electric Rolls-Royce "within this decade," CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös told Automotive News Europe in a phone interview.
Rolls-Royce is focusing on full-electric cars and will not sell a plug-in hybrid car, he said.
Roll-Royce customers appreciate electric power, which "fits perfectly" with the brand, Müller-Ötvös said. "It’s silent and torquey and that is the reason to go directly from combustion to electrification," he said.
Rolls-Royce's first EV is currently under development and will be built on the same aluminum spaceframe platform as the automaker's current lineup.
The EV could replace the Wraith coupe and Dawn convertible, both of which are coming to the end of their lifecycle, Rolls-Royce executives hinted at a recent launch event for the new Ghost sedan. Rolls-Royce did not officially confirm that.
BMW Group has trademarked the name Silent Shadow for a future Rolls-Royce EV, a play on a sedan, the Silver Shadow, that was dropped in 1980, media reports say.
While customers are not asking for an ultraluxury battery-powered car, they could be forced to switch due to legislation, a Rolls-Royce spokesman said.
"There is no demand from customers but we need to be in a position to sell them a car if legislation forbids them from driving a combustion engine car into the center of a city," the spokesman said.
Rolls-Royce showed an electric version of the previous Phantom sedan, called the 102EX, at the 2011 Geneva auto show. However, development work on an electric car has stalled since then, partly due to the limitations of the technology.
Another reason is that Rolls-Royce does not believe that asking customers to lift charging cables out of the trunk and plug the car in fits with the brand's ultraluxury image.
The 102EX was one of the first electric concepts to feature wireless inductive charging but Rolls-Royce has since become less committed to the idea, citing its inefficiency and potential danger.
Instead, the brand is working with a company to supply a robotic arm that can charge the vehicle automatically.
Müller-Ötvös said the brand's current V-12 gasoline engine will still continue to play a key role at the company. "We see a future for the engine probably until the end of decade," he said.