The all-electric Rolls-Royce Spectre has concluded winter testing 55km from Arctic Circle. Temperatures at the facility used by the marque, located in Arjeplog, Sweden, drop to -26 ˚C (-14.8 ˚F) and are further cooled to -40 ˚C (-40 ˚F). The EV has completed 25% of its 2.5 million km testing program, simulating 400 years of use.
The departure from internal combustion engines allows us to significantly increase the processing power of our individual components and create a Decentralized Intelligence. We refer to this unprecedented era, where we benefit from a multi-control, multi-channel and highly interconnected electronic and electric powertrain architecture, as ‘Rolls-Royce 3.0’.
Our task is to teach each component and system how to think, behave and communicate like a Rolls-Royce, which sees much of the engineering pivot from workshops into the digital space. Here in Arjeplog we have built a significant foundation on which we will create a true Rolls-Royce. This is a big step forward for our brand, but also for electrification—even though Spectre is in its infancy, I can confirm that the technology is able to contain the Rolls-Royce experience.—Mihiar Ayoubi, Director of Engineering, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars
There are several reasons for subjecting the marque’s products to such extremes. When the first prototypes are built, engineers perform very basic tests in extreme conditions to ensure that each system is operational and functions at a basic level in a cold weather environment. This test is combined with the beginnings of the refinement process.
This begins with processes that are common to the automotive industry such as noise, vibration and harshness tests. The variables that affect this are manifold, spanning from the materials selected for major hardware components to the density of the door rubbers, bushing compounds, fastening materials and even properties of bonding agents. The performance of these variables can change considerably when subjected to extreme temperatures; likewise the efficiency of the motor car’s heating, ventilation, air conditioning and cooling systems.
Further, by driving on low-traction surfaces such as snow and ice and wilfully destabilizing Spectre, the engineers can create dynamic circumstances at low speeds that would ordinarily occur at high speeds. This can be reviewed and guided in situ and in slow motion, in doing so parametrizing and finessing cold-weather vehicle performance in areas such as handling, controllability, stability, predictability and the ‘waftability’ that defines the Rolls-Royce experience.
De-escalated time enables engineers to create unparalleled detail in the motor car’s response, in doing so schooling Spectre to think, behave and communicate like a Rolls-Royce.
Rolls-Royce 3.0. Rolls-Royce 3.0 represents the beginning of the marque’s electric future. The term ‘Rolls-Royce 3.0’ is a reference to the brand’s progress during its renaissance, which began in Goodwood, West Sussex on 1 January 2003. The first Goodwood Rolls-Royce was Phantom, and it was underpinned by its own Bespoke architecture. This was Rolls-Royce 1.0.
Following this, a new, highly flexible all-aluminum spaceframe architecture was conceived that could be adapted for multiple applications, including the current Phantom, Cullinan, Ghost and Coachbuild projects. This was Rolls-Royce 2.0. Rolls-Royce 3.0 is the integration of a fully electric power train and Decentralized Intelligence into the marque’s architecture.
Spectre is the most connected Rolls-Royce ever and each component within it 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.
The increased intelligence of Spectre’s electronic and electric powertrain architecture enables a free and direct exchange of detailed information between these 1,000+ functions with no centralized processing. While this has required engineers to increase the length of cabling from around 2 kilometres in existing Rolls-Royce products to 7 kilometres in Spectre, and to write more than 25 times more algorithms, it offers a significant step forward for the brand.
A dedicated control can be created for each set of functions which enables unprecedented levels of detail and refinement, allowing for what Rolls-Royce chassis specialists are already calling “Rolls-Royce in high definition”.
Spectre: architecture. In creating a design for Spectre, a generously proportioned, highly emotional body style was selected. This could only be enabled with the marque’s all-aluminum spaceframe architecture. The brand believes that there is only one other contemporary product that occupies this space: Phantom Coupé. The marque’s designers consider Spectre to be Phantom Coupé’s spiritual successor.
The flexibility of Rolls-Royce’s proprietary architecture, which is reserved for the marque’s exclusive use and does not underpin mass market cars, enables the exterior design to carry the scale required to create the presence of an authentic Rolls-Royce. This is plain to see in Spectre’s wheel size—it will be the first coupé equipped with 23-inch wheels since 1926.
The flexibility of the marque’s architecture also enabled designers to dramatize the coupé experience. By placing the floor halfway between the sill structures rather than on top or underneath the sills, there is a highly aerodynamic channel for the battery, providing a perfectly smooth underfloor profile. Likewise, this creates a low seating position and enveloping cabin experience.
By moving the bulkhead location, designers and engineers have also been able to deepen the dashboard location to cocoon passengers. This is amplified with a low windscreen rake and incredibly efficient airflow profile. This, along with other intelligent design solutions such as an aerodynamically tuned Spirit of Ecstasy mascot, contributes to a drag coefficient (cd) of just 0.26 in early prototypes.
The battery location, which is enabled by the marque’s architecture, unlocks another benefit that is commensurate with the Rolls-Royce experience. By creating wiring and piping channels between the floor of the car and roof of the battery, engineers have created a secondary function for the battery: 700kg of sound deadening.
The Electric Super Coupé still has to complete nearly two million kilometers before the marque’s engineers will consider this undertaking complete prior to first customer deliveries in the fourth quarter of 2023.