As one of the most innovative automotive companies in the world, Rolls-Royce was always going to be an early adopter of the move to full-electric vehicles, but electrification has actually been embedded within the brand’s DNA since the very beginning.
Its Co-Founder Charles Rolls foresaw the shift to electric cars over 120 years ago and predicted its domination in the industry. Today, the brand is preparing to make this dream a reality with its first all-electric vehicle the Rolls-Royce Spectre which is expected to redefine the image of electric cars when it arrives on the market next year. We find out more about the plans for an electrifying future at Rolls-Royce Motors with César Habib, Regional Director of Middle East & Africa.
In terms of innovation and sustainability, what are the main focuses for Rolls-Royce this year?
This year was an exceptional one for Rolls-Royce Motor Cars as we announced our electrification plans with the most anticipated motor car in the marque’s history, Spectre. The concept of electrification is long familiar to the brand, our founding fathers were fascinated by all things electrified. Sir Henry Royce began his working life as an electrical engineer and dedicated much of his career to creating internal combustion engines that simulated the characteristics of an electric car. And it was Charles Rolls who prophesied an electrified future for automobiles after driving a 1900 electric car named the Columbia. Spectre is the fulfilment of this prophecy.
Electrification has been the subject of constant consideration for many years, and we have been experimenting with an electric powertrain for some time. In 2011, Rolls-Royce showcased a fully-electric Experimental Phantom concept named 102EX. This was followed by 103EX, a dramatic design study that anticipated a bold electric future for the marque. Prompting a huge amount of interest from our patrons, who considered the electric powertrain to be a perfect fit for Rolls-Royce, throughout the years we have been continuously asked when we would go electric.
This response was received by a promise from Rolls-Royce’s Chief Executive Officer, Torsten Müller-Ötvös: “Rolls-Royce will go electric, starting this decade”, and this promise has been kept.
In September 2021, Charles Rolls’ prophecy from April 1900 and Torsten Müller-Ötvös’ promise led to a historical moment, the reveal of Spectre and with it, the beginning of a new legacy.
Our first fully electric car which will remain a priority for Rolls-Royce Motor Cars will deliver a truly authentic and elevated Rolls-Royce experience, propelling the world’s most progressive and influential women and men into an electrified future.
With a brand that has so much history, how do you balance that with the worlds of innovation and technology and ensure you are still keeping your long-standing customers happy?
At Rolls-Royce, we have always been proud of the true expression of our marque. Thanks to the unrivalled team of creatives, designers, and engineers at Goodwood, each one of our motoring masterpieces represents a feat of engineering and sits at the very forefront of innovation and design.
Part of our ongoing success lies in our deep understanding of our clients as well as the worlds they live in. Our patrons are our lifeblood, they are part of an illustrious community who expect the very best from the brands that they interact with, and we take great pride in knowing all our clients personally. We go above and beyond a mere transaction, and curate a hyper-personalised, close relationship characterised by high-touch encounters and memorable experiences. It is these relationships that pave the way for the development of our motor cars, and which ultimately illustrate a deeper truth: Rolls-Royce is Bespoke.
Spectre is the very representation of a response to our client’s demands, with a suite of advanced technologies further securing our marque’s relevance for generations to come.
We know the brand’s all-electric car is currently being tested, tell us about that and when it can be expected to arrive on the market.
We are proud to confirm that our all-electric Super Coupe will arrive in the market in Q4 of 2023. Led by our Director of Engineering, Dr Mihiar Ayoubi, Rolls-Royce Spectre underwent a 2.5 million km testing programme, embarking on an adventure across all terrains. From the extreme conditions of Arjeplog, Sweden, to more formal scrutiny in a location that reflects the Spectre’s everyday use, the French Riviera, new suspension technology has been approved that ensures Spectre delivers Rolls-Royce’s hallmark ‘magic carpet ride’. The results of the test drives were excellent, and to quote Dr Mihiar Ayoubi, Spectre delivers the Rolls-Royce experience in exceptionally high definition.
With a brand like Rolls-Royce where performance is so important, what have been the challenges that have arisen when it comes to moving to electric vehicles?
We faced opportunities rather than challenges, including the expansion of our centre of luxury manufacturing excellence at The Home of Rolls-Royce in Goodwood, UK. Our priority at Rolls-Royce is to provide unique experiences. We are always exploring, developing, and presenting new and ambitious interpretations of true luxury, resulting in some of the finest examples of contemporary craftsmanship, unrivalled engineering, and state-of-the-art technology.
What is your opinion on the electric vehicle sector and how do you see the industry changing to accommodate this?
Over the past few years, the industry has changed rapidly to accommodate the need for electric vehicles. At Rolls-Royce, we are on the right track and have already announced our plans for a new chapter in the marque’s history. With Spectre, we set out for the full electrification of our entire product portfolio by 2030. By then we will no longer be producing or selling any internal combustion engine products.
How do you find consumers are reacting to this shift?
Our client’s feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Their excitement is further evidenced by the commitments and booking orders we received around Spectre, with our clients taking the first deliveries of the car in the fourth quarter of 2023.
What are some of the most recent demands you are facing from customers in terms of technology, innovation and sustainability?
Our client’s demands have been answered with the creation of Spectre. It really is no exaggeration to state that it is the most anticipated Rolls-Royce ever, for it is unlike any before it. This is not only because of its fully electric powertrain, but also its unprecedented computing power and application of advanced data-processing technologies.
Spectre is the most connected Rolls-Royce ever and each of its components is more intelligent than in any previous Rolls-Royce. It features 141,200 sender-receiver relations and has more than 1,000 functions with more than 25,000 sub-functions. By comparison, Phantom has 51,000 sender-receiver relations, 456 functions and 647 sub-functions. Spectre is much more than a product. It is a symbol of our bright, bold electric future, and represents a seismic shift in our powertrain technology.
Tell us about the Rolls-Royce Private office which recently opened in Dubai?
The opening of a permanent Private Office located outside of Goodwood is a testament to the ongoing evolution of our great marque and confirmation of its status as a House of Luxury. Further embedding our reputation as the world’s most client-focused luxury brand, the Private Office Dubai will offer our patrons across the Middle East effortlessly elevated design services that are on par with our products.
For many years we have been inviting our VIP patrons to the Home of Rolls-Royce in Goodwood. Now, following significant demand, the marque is bringing Goodwood to the world. Located in the heart of Dubai, in the One Central neighbourhood, the new Rolls-Royce Private Office offers the flair and expertise of the Home of Rolls-Royce. Thanks to the materials on display, the marque’s renowned hospitality and the first permanent appointment of Bespoke Designer, Michelle Lusby, and Bespoke Client Experience Manager, Chris Hardy, a wonderful experience awaits.
Visiting the Private Office Dubai is invitation-only, either by Rolls-Royce directly or via our partners throughout the region. Three key programmes will be the focus of the Private Office: the recently revitalized Rolls-Royce Coachbuild programme, High Bespoke Commissioning, and access to the Private Office Collection of one-of-one masterpiece motor cars.
How is this helping to improve your relationship with customers and what can you tell us about the technology being used here?
We know that nothing can compare with a visit to The Home of Rolls-Royce in Goodwood. However, by bringing Goodwood to Dubai, we aim to close the gap and ensure that our clients have a unique experience in exquisite surroundings. The Rolls-Royce Private Office Dubai goes beyond the conventional dealership experience. With highly skilled experts on the ground, clients will be consulted to understand their requirements and vision. We then aim to create a unique masterpiece to reflect the client’s personal interest. In addition, we will also be leveraging the very latest technology to allow our Middle East-based patrons to explore our Home in West Sussex remotely and see their own Bespoke Rolls-Royce come to life.
Can you tell us about the Rolls-Royce Apiary project at Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club and how this aligns with the brand’s vision around sustainability?
This is an initiative that sits very close to the hearts of everyone in the Rolls-Royce family and is a project that aligns perfectly with the company’s wider environmental vision and practices. Last year we joined conservationists, naturalists, growers and apiculturists around the globe in observing World Be Day on 20 May 2021 by launching our Apiary project together with our partner Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Dubai (AGMC).
Modelled after the highly successful Apiary established at the Home of Rolls‑Royce in 2017, through our project we look to translate the amazing work done over the past four years at Goodwood to our region. Our Apiary is comprised of six beehives, made from cedar, and painted white to withstand Dubai’s high temperatures and humidity levels. Five of the beehives are named after Rolls-Royce models – ‘Phantom’, ‘Wraith’, ‘Ghost’, ‘Dawn’ and ‘Cullinan’ – while the sixth, ‘Spirit of Ecstasy’, celebrates the marque’s illustrious mascot. Each hive is home to over 60,000 honeybees, headed by an ‘Emirati Queen’ bee provided by the Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority (ADAFSA) and carefully tended by experts from The Beekeepers Foundation, UAE.
Despite their importance in supporting food security and biodiversity, bees are under significant threat worldwide. Through this project, we look to shed light on the importance and heritage of the bees in the region, raise public awareness around the role they play in our lives, and ultimately safeguard these remarkable and highly vulnerable creatures.
What can you tell us about Rolls-Royce in the Middle East currently and what we can expect in the coming year?
Rolls-Royce continues to be the pinnacle of luxury. We are both delighted and proud of our performance across the Middle East, a testament to the long-standing relationship and trust we have with our patrons. As we develop further from automotive manufacturer to House of Luxury, we look forward to inviting clients old and new to draw closer to the brand and immerse themselves even further in the magical world of Rolls-Royce. With that in mind, we are incredibly excited about introducing Spectre to the market.
What is a message you would like to send to our readers about the future of Rolls-Royce?
Our future is bright, bold, and electric. We encourage all our clients to stay tuned for Spectre – a Rolls-Royce first and foremost, and an electric car second.