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Rolls-Royce will offer an electric vehicle 'when the time is right'

The luxury automaker's CEO says Rolls-Royce won't offer plug-in hybrids, instead focusing on full electrification.

Steven Ewing Former managing editor
Steven Ewing spent his childhood reading car magazines, making his career as an automotive journalist an absolute dream job. After getting his foot in the door at Automobile while he was still a teenager, Ewing found homes on the mastheads at Winding Road magazine, Autoblog and Motor1.com before joining the CNET team in 2018. He has also served on the World Car Awards jury. Ewing grew up ingrained in the car culture of Detroit -- the Motor City -- before eventually moving to Los Angeles. In his free time, Ewing loves to cook, binge trash TV and play the drums.
Steven Ewing
Rolls-Royce Phantom

The Rolls-Royce Phantom's "Architecture of Luxury" platform was engineered to handle an eventual electric powertrain.

James Lipman/Rolls-Royce

Super-ulta-luxury automaker Rolls-Royce has long said it plans to offer an electric vehicle. But while other companies are seemingly rushing to offer this sort of technology as soon as possible, Rolls-Royce says its EV will launch "when the time is right."

That's the word from company CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös, speaking to members of the media in Pebble Beach, California, last weekend. "We are on it," he said. "Rest assured."

Rolls-Royce is taking an all-or-nothing approach to electrification, too. Rather than adopting plug-in hybrid powertrains, the company will only go fully electric.

"We need to make smart decisions on where we invest our money," Müller-Ötvös said. "It may be OK for bigger companies to go into hybrids and all sorts of different technologies, [but] we needed to make a certain decision." Plus, he notes that "legislation will change, particularly in city centers," that will favor EVs.

Müller-Ötvös said Rolls-Royce's customers aren't interested in plug-in hybrids. Rather, they want the full EV experience. "Clients -- particularly younger ones -- are far more open for electric drives," he said.

Rolls-Royce's first EV won't likely be an existing version of a current model, either, though Müller-Ötvös said the "Architecture of Luxury" platform that underpins the new Cullinan and Phantom is set up to handle an electric powertrain.

But when, exactly, will we see Rolls-Royce's first EV? Müller-Ötvös has a simple answer for that one: "I'm not telling you."

Living luxe in the 2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan

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