Rolls-Royce plug-in hybrid coming soon, whether customers want it or not

Rolls-Royce is known for taking its time when it comes to new technology, but the iconic British luxury brand could soon be forced to try something new.

Auto Express reports that Rolls will introduce a plug-in hybrid within the next few years to help meet upcoming government regulations.

At last week’s Geneva Motor Show, Rolls chief Torsten Müller-Otvos told Auto Express that a plug-in will become “essential” in two years due to tighter worldwide emissions regulations, but not necessarily because of customer demand.

A plug-in hybrid could be the perfect way for Rolls to meet those obligations without compromising its values.

The brand’s last attempt to get green as the all-electric 102EX Phantom. This experimental model was shown to 100 customers, who did not seem that impressed. Its short range and long charging time were found to be unsatisfactory.

However, a plug-in hybrid would have effectively unlimited range, and could produce the same power as a comparable internal-combustion model.

That means owners would never be stuck at Harrods waiting for their cars to charge, and Rolls would have a low-emission model in its range to satisfy regulations.

Conveniently, parent company BMW has spent considerable time and treasure developing plug-in hybrid power trains for the i8 sports car and X5 eDrive crossover.

Rolls likes to stay as independent from BMW as possible, but this kind of technology is expensive to develop. It makes financial sense to both the British brand and the German one – which could amortize development costs over more vehicles.

However – unlike more plebeian models – a plug-in hybrid powertrain likely won’t raise the price of a future Rolls-Royce like the next-generation Phantom. 

Müller-Otvos said Rolls doesn’t want to deter its traditional customers, who tend to be “shrewd businesspeople” that are apparently  just as value-focused as anyone else.

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