Rolls-Royce Spectre: first electric car arrives 2023

The pure electric era gets underway for Rolls-Royce in two years. The end of its combustion era is around the corner, too…

SINGAPORE — You’re looking at the Rolls-Royce Spectre, and it tells you two things: the first pure electric Rolls-Royce is only two years away, and the final combustion one, merely nine.

Rolls-Royce has just released these teaser photos along with news that it is building its first electric car for launch in 2023. Customer deliveries will start in the fourth quarter of the year. The pictured car is apparently not a prototype but the real thing, albeit heavily-disguised.

Rolls didn’t give details of the Spectre, but the pics reveal a stately two-door coupe; it’s likely a replacement for the Wraith, which came out in 2013. If so, the Spectre has a tough act to follow — the Wraith packs 624 horsepower and wafts  to 100km/h in only 4.6 seconds.

A drophead version, which is what Rolls-Royce calls its convertibles, hopefully won’t be too much to ask.

As the pics suggest, the car is apparently pretty far along its development. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars chief executive Thorsten Müller-Ötvös said the company is about to start the Spectres’ on-road testing programme. The plan is to cover 2.5 million kilometres and simulate 400 years of use, a record for any new Rolls-Royce.

Mr Müller-Ötvös added in a statement that the Spectre will “elevate the global all-electric revolution” and promised that it will be the “first — and finest — super-luxury product of its type.”

On Monday the company teased the Spectre announcement by pointing out that founders Charles Rolls and Henry Royce (below) were both familiar with and fascinated by electricity as a power source, and all its potential.

The first pure electric Rolls is also a signal that petrol ones are on the way out. “With this new product we set out our credentials for the full electrification of our entire product portfolio by 2030,” Mr Müller-Ötvös said. “By then, Rolls-Royce will no longer be in the business of producing or selling any internal combustion engine products.”

The announcement matches the timeline set by the UK government for the abolition of combustion engines in that market. 2030 is also when arch-rival Bentley Motors expects to become an all-electric brand, although its first battery-powered model is only due to show up in 2025, two years after the Spectre.

If you expect to miss the gentle susurrations of Rolls’ V12 engines, you’re probably not alone, although Mr Müller-Ötvös believes motors won’t be a compromise. 

“Electric drive is uniquely and perfectly suited to Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, more so than any other automotive brand. It is silent, refined and creates all its torque almost instantly, going on to generate tremendous power,” Mr Müller-Ötvös said. “This is what we at Rolls-Royce call ‘waftability.’”

The drivetrains are changing, but the goal remains the same.

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about the author

Leow Julen
CarBuyer's managing editor is a lot older than he behaves. He's been writing about cars for 26 years. Someday he might do it coherently. Ju-Len believes in world peace and V8s, but not necessarily in that order.