The Rolls-Royce Spectre will be the luxury marque’s first electric vehicle and in the eyes of the company it represents a historic milestone. “The announcement of every new Rolls-Royce motor car carries a great weight of expectation, but Spectre is unquestionably the most anticipated product in the marque’s modern history. This is because it is much more than a product. It is a symbol for our bright, bold electric future, and it represents a seismic shift in our powertrain technology,” remarked company CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös.
The first phase of the Spectre’s development process has involved an extensive cold weather test program, undertaken in Arjeplog, Sweden. “We have created a testing program that is as significant and historical as Spectre itself,” said Müller-Ötvös. “The extraordinary undertaking of educating Spectre to think and behave like a Rolls-Royce will cover 2.5 million kilometers, which is a simulation of more than 400 years of use for a Rolls-Royce. Today, I can confirm that 25% of this journey is now complete, and the results have met our most ambitious expectations.”
Of course, winter testing is the norm for every manufacturer, but Rolls Royce vehicles have a hard-earned reputation of providing the benchmark for ride and build quality in the luxury segment. Translating this to an all-new electric platform is a huge undertaking, as director of engineering Mihiar Ayoubi highlighted: “Refining the all-electric drivetrain that underpins Spectre challenges the very definition of engineering. The departure from internal combustion engines allows us to significantly increase the processing power of our individual components and create a Decentralised 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.”
Most of the tests undertaken are common to the rest of the automotive industry, such as noise, vibration and harshness tests (but with very high targets to hit). Beyond these, there is an additional winter testing component that is of great importance to Rolls-Royce. This is defined by the marque’s engineers as ‘de-escalated time’, which is used to hone the Rolls-Royce feel via Spectre’s chassis control systems, powertrain management and electronics control.
By driving on low-traction surfaces such as snow and ice, the Rolls-Royce engineers create dynamic circumstances at low speeds that would ordinarily occur at high speeds. This allows them to parametrize and finessing cold-weather vehicle performance in areas such as handling, controllability, stability, predictability and the ‘waftability’ that defines the Rolls-Royce experience.