How do you solve a problem like gasoline? Rolls-Royce is apparently considering plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) technology to contend with increasingly stringent government regulations regarding fuel consumption.
It’s a tricky dilemma for the England-based automaker because the ultra-luxury cars it makes are big, heavy, and require lots of fuel for their engines. The presence of an electric battery would add to that weight, and would require looking out for electric recharging stations (unless designed to work with electrical outlets). It’s a modernizing of an old brand, and as with any change to something so established, there will likely by resistance.
Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös seems to think that PHEVs are the only way forward. Pure electric cars, though fun, have very limited driving times, and would be seriously taxed by the weight of and energy requirements of a Phantom, Ghost or Wraith. PHEVs, on the other hand, use battery power and a regular gasoline-powered engine. As a Business Insider article recently pointed out, Rolls-Royce did built an electric Phantom a few years ago, but test marketing was not favorable, and the prototype was axed.
Diesel is heavily favored by many European automakers, but according to Bentley spokesperson Kevin Rose, in China “diesel is for trucks, end of story.” That sounds a bit snippy, we know, but we get his point that the tastes of a market like China are vastly important for ultra-luxury automakers. Apparently diesel is not well-received in Middle East markets, as well, which makes it zero for two in Müller-Ötvös’s steely eyes. Although much can be said through a person’s eyes, in this case the CEO used his words.
“For me, the direction of plug-in hybrids is probably more the direction to go with Rolls-Royce motor cars,” Müller-Ötvös said to Business Insider.
On a separate recent occasion, Müller-Ötvös said that the company’s design team is currently drafting designs for a Rolls-Royce SUV, so it’s not entirely crazy to think that Rolls-Royce might be drawing PHEV technology into that concept since they’re at the drawing board anyway. Time will tell.