Rolls Royce releases the experimental Phantom 102EX electric vehicle to journalists for a quick drive and review. The one-off 102EX is built atop the Phantom bodystyle and will serve as a test bed to gather data which will be crucial in future decisions around electric models going into production.
The 6.75-liter V-12 was replaced by a massive 71-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery housed within the aluminum spaceframe. Rolls-Royce is using large-form NCM pouch cells, or lithium-nickel-cobalt-manganese-oxide to be exact. Due to its experimental nature, the 96 cells are separated into 5 modules (38-, 36-, 10-, 8-, and 4-cell units) and arranged in such a way that the overall battery takes on the shape of an engine and transmission.
The battery weighs 1,411 pounds.
The battery outputs 850 amperes at 338 volts to two electric motors linked to a rear transaxle. The single-speed gearbox takes each motor’s 145 kilowatts (194 horsepower) and sends up to 388 horsepower to the rear wheels. Given its electric nature, the two motors will have up 590 combined pound-feet of torque on demand. The 0-60 mph time is quoted as being under 8 seconds, and there’s a governed top speed of just under 100 mph. The driving range is said to be up to 124 miles.
Forbes and GreenCarReports are one of the two magazines that reviewed the 102EX, so let’s have a look at some excerpts from their test drives.
During my limited drive time yesterday on Manhattan’s West Side Highway, the 102 EX performed much like you’d expect a 6,680-pound frame to perform after switching from a 6.8-liter, V12 engine to a 290-kW lithium ion battery and two rear electric motors: Acceleration along the single-speed transmission was smooth, if slowish (Rolls says it’ll do 0-60mph in 8 seconds–that may be generous); the regenerative braking thankfully was much softer than similar brakes in other electric vehicles (the 150 kW MINI E, for one).
The car runs silently but still gets plenty of space from drivers nearby. After all, driving a Rolls-Royce is always a scene.
The bottom line for this vehicle? It’s a worthy tribute to a company trying to work away from gasoline dependence. In fact, Rolls discarded the idea of making a hybrid version of its car because it didn’t want to take a half-step between relying on gasoline and full-bore electrification.
First–and most noticeably–its engineers did not program in “idle creep,” as found in any automatic-transmission car. That means the driver has to accelerate vigorously while modulating the brake with the left foot.
Nor was there any hill-hold function. And we found that on uphill slopes, the 3-ton-plus weight of 102EX very much wanted to roll backwards.
Only flooring the accelerator seemed to get it going again. Once underway, accelerator behavior was fairly normal.
Regenerative braking felt mild under standard circumstances, not notably different from an automatic-transmission car.
The “low” setting (requested through a lovely chrome button on the steering wheel) made the regeneration more aggressive, but probably not enough for true one-pedal electric driving. At least, not in Manhattan traffic.