WHAT IT IS: During BMW’s recent annual meeting, CEO Oliver Zipse said the company will offer an EV “in 90 percent of segments—from the compact class to the ultra-luxury segment.” Rolls-Royce is BMW’s ultra-luxury brand, and its first production electric vehicle—and likely the first from any of the few brands in such rarified air—is believed to be called Silent Shadow. An entirely new entry in the brand’s portfolio (meaning it won’t replace any model, as has been rumored), it’s likely a sedan rather than an SUV. Rolls-Royce’s unique heritage and market position make it somewhat immune to the SUV craze, which has been handled by the Cullinan, anyway. Styling inspiration will come from the wild 103EX autonomous EV concept car from 2016 (seen here), though we expect carryover elements to be limited to specific details and the bulk of the vehicle to employ more traditional Rolls-Royce design and proportions.
WHY IT MATTERS: Rolls-Royce floated the idea of an EV a decade ago with the 102EX concept, a fully electric seventh-generation Phantom, but found little appetite among its wealthy customers. Rolls people were also quoted as early as last year saying there still isn’t customer demand for electric ultra-luxury cars, but governments worldwide are pressing the issue. Although the twin-turbo V-12 engine under the current cars’ long hoods may still convey prestige, it’s falling out of favor with both air quality regulators and the increasingly environmentally conscious public. When this vehicle does premiere, it’ll be the first Rolls in more than two decades to offer anything but a 12-cylinder engine. For the full story, check out this article from Motor Trend.