Rolls-Royce had vowed that we would find out this year, once and for all, whether the company would build an SUV. This week, we received our answer. Kind of.
In an open letter—an unusual news-revealing device in the automotive world—CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös acknowledged that the company would indeed be adding a fourth model to its wheelhouse. However, the chief executive officer was careful to avoid words like “sport” or “utility” for the same reason that there is no “sport” button in any Rolls-Royce motor car.
Instead, our legendary 111-year-old brand will build a “high-bodied” car with an “aluminum architecture.” Although Rolls-Royce Motor Cars has shied away from fully electric drivetrains in the past, the company has said encouraging things about plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, which use gasoline and electric power sources.
Coupled with lower-tier automakers Audi and Volvo’s development of plug-in hybrid SUVs, we can see a PHEV version of an SUV coming from Rolls-Royce. Maybe not in its first year of availability, but by 2020, for sure. The advantage of PHEVs is that they can rely on battery power for short periods. This results in lower polluting emissions and better acceleration. It also creates a high level of overall horsepower.
In terms of a release date, Müller-Ötvös did not give one. That’s not what this week’s announcement is about. However, the prevailing outside sentiment indicates a 2017 or 2018 launch. That would put it after the Wraith Drophead Coupe and before the next-generation Phantom.
As for why this is happening, the answer is quite simple: it’s what the market is asking for. For example, the best-selling model last year for sports car-maker Porsche was not a sports car at all: it was an SUV. Offering the freedom to bring whomever and whatever you like is the special appeal of an SUV. And now, thanks to this market trend, we will soon see a Rolls-Royce unlike any other.
This is all several years out, so make yourself comfortable today in any of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars’ best. Stop by our showroom in Raleigh for the finest Rolls-Royce dealership around.