The Rolls-Royce Spectre is a hell of a thing, isn’t it? There’s style, elegance and, naturally, lots of luxury. Doubtless it’ll be whisper-quiet too, thanks to the usual Rolls-Royce build quality, around 1,500 lbs of soundproofing and that crucial all-electric powertrain.
If any car, or indeed marque is ideally suited to electrification then it must be the Spectre and Rolls-Royce. It marks a move away from big, gas-powered cars towards a whole range of battery powered models from this legendary luxury brand.
Due out next year, the Rolls-Royce Spectre is built on a dedicated platform, designed specifically to house its chunky 120kWh battery in the floorpan. Nevertheless, it’ll still weigh in at 3.27 tons, which is pretty heavy considering how much aluminum is apparently being used in the construction.
Despite having a whopping 577bhp and 900Nm of torque, plus a 0 to 62mph time of 4.5 seconds, all that weight inevitably takes its toll on range. We've already seen that happen with the GMC Hummer EV, a 9,000 lb truck which gets 329 miles out of its 205 kWh battery. That works out at roughly 1.6 miles of driving distance for each kWh of electricity.
While there are treats like rear-hinged doors and a small mountain of electronic wizardry to be found throughout the cockpit, the Rolls-Royce Spectre will have a range in the region of 323 miles. That’s okay, but it’s not great. Especially for a car that starts at $413,000.
The Spectre will be also able to support recharging speeds of up to 195kW, but it’s worth keeping the hassle factor in mind if you’re suitably flushed enough to put in an order for one.
While it’s mainly all good so far, I’ve got some concerns over the practicalities of owning such a thing. I doubt it’s a problem I’ll actually have to face, since the Rolls-Royce Spectre commands a price that rivals a mid-size house. But it’s the same problem I’ve encountered driving other all-electric cars in all pricing segments — how to cope with range and charging limitations.
I don’t mind admitting that I’ve been to hell and back when charging electric cars. Sure, there have been plenty of times I’ve successfully navigated the countless apps, charging stations and everything else that goes with replenishing an EVs battery in the public arena. But, there have also been more than a few occasions when charging a battery electric vehicle has proved stressful, costly and very wearing in equal measure.
As EVs become increasingly popular, so are the charging destinations that we all have to use in order to keep them going. It’s fine when the charger works and there’s no one queuing, but unless you tend to charge at, say, 2am in the morning, finding a vacant charging lot is becoming increasingly unlikely. Finding one that works as it should, without having to spend a half-hour on your cellphone talking to an equally as confused support worker, can be just as challenging.
There’s also the ignominy of rocking up in something like a Rolls-Royce Spectre and having to plug in, just like everyone else. It’s hardly gracious, is it? Imagine wafting into a shabby charging location in your pristine Rolls-Royce Spectre and having to mingle with the likes of Tesla and Hyundai owners as you jostle for position on the electric charging point grid.
There’s not even a proper queuing system – you’ll just have to hope that other EV owners practice the same unwritten code of etiquette that you do.
The procedure isn’t going to be any grander just because you have Rolls-Royce money. You’ll be standing there, watched closely by other drivers, tapping your payment card or stabbing at your charging app hoping upon hope that it’ll all work. That way you can smile, perhaps just a little bit smugly, as you return to the sumptuous seating of your Spectre looking as cool as a cucumber.
It’s great to hope, but I know all too well that these things can go either way.
There’s all the additional expense, too, that comes with the miscellaneous extras you inevitably end up buying while you kill time waiting for the thing to charge. Endless coffees, snacks, socks, novelty teeth… I could go on. I’ve bought all manner of trash while I’ve been stuck at rest stops waiting for my EV’s battery to crawl back from 20% to 80%.
Being able to buy stuff is a lifesaver as you while away 30, 40 or even 50 minutes waiting for the charge to complete. It all adds up though. I guess if you’ve just paid hundreds of thousands for a Rolls-Royce Spectre that’s not necessarily going to be a big deal. Having to hang around service areas and sub-optimal shopping malls while you do it might, though.
Maybe Rolls-Royce will be providing a grander, dedicated charging network for Rolls-Royce owners in the future? Kinda like a prestige edition of Tesla’s Supercharger network, where only Rolls-Royce owners can venture, letting you spend your money on grander things. The finest premium socks and novelty teeth money can buy.
It could be a safe haven, the roadside equivalent of a gated community, away from grubby roadside bathrooms and substandard eateries. It sounds like it could be heaven, but I doubt very much if it’ll turn out to be the reality.
Nope, I think, given the current rate of infrastructure expansion, Rolls-Royce Spectre owners will face the same challenges as the rest of us when it comes to replenishing their enormous batteries. Which, when you think about it, doesn’t really seem like progress. Especially when you can still arrive at a gas pump in a ‘regular’ Rolls-Royce, fill up and be on your way without half the hassle you get from owning an all-electric equivalent.
Maybe the Rolls-Royce owner fraternity is ready for the challenges though and perhaps they’re keen to jump on board the green revolution. Me, though, I’m not so sure… Charging, like death, is the grand leveller. It doesn't matter how fat your wallet is, you’ll still need to join at the back of the line, just like everyone else.