Zero-emission zones are forcing Rolls-Royce to develop its first EV

It's not planning to launch a plug-in hybrid, though

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Rolls-Royce confirmed its first series-produced electric car will debut before the end of 2020. The BMW-owned firm is pivoting toward electrification to give its customers access to city zero-emission zones.

Instead of putting batteries in one of its existing models, the company will enter the EV segment with a new nameplate. Unverified reports claim the car will replace the Wraith and the Dawn, so it could arrive as a coupe and/or as a convertible, and Automotive News learned it will ride on Rolls-Royce's modular aluminum platform.

It's too early for executives to provide technical specifications. Rolls-Royce could choose to borrow components from its parent company, or it could develop the technology on its own. Regardless, the brand stressed its customers aren't clamoring for a zero-emission options, but regulations are forcing Rolls to go electric.

"There is no demand from customers, but we need to be in a position to sell them a car if legislation forbids them from driving a combustion-engined car into the center of a city," a spokesperson told Automotive News.

Company CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös announced the model is currently being developed, and it's scheduled to make its debut "within this decade." He added an electric powertrain fits the brand's image perfectly, because it's silent and it delivers the mammoth amount of torque customers expect, whether they're driving or being driven. Batteries add weight, but no one buys a Rolls-Royce thinking they're getting a nimble, feather-light car.

In the meantime, Rolls-Royce will continue fine-tuning its mighty V12 engine, which it anticipates will power most of the cars it builds until the end of the 2020s. And, don't expect it to release a plug-in hybrid model. It's skipping gasoline-electric technology and going straight from 12-cylinders to electric motors.

Rolls-Royce has been on the fence about electrification for about a decade. It introduced an electric version of the last-generation Phantom named 102EX at the 2011 edition of the Geneva auto show, and it briefly considered giving the sedan the proverbial green light for production. It backpedaled when it realized the technology still had serious limitations, notably in terms of driving range, and that its customers weren't interested in going electric.

Engineers tested hybrid prototypes in the 2010s, but they remained at the test mule stage. However, the stunningly futuristic 103EX concept (pictured) it unveiled in 2016 was electric and fully autonomous.


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