Rolls-Royce Spectre, future EVs will get Black Badge treatment
Company CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös says the upcoming Spectre "is very much a driver's car."
Steven EwingFormer 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.
When Rolls-Royce launched its Black Badge line in 2016, the company projected these cars would account for 10% to 15% of all sales globally. Fast forward to 2021 and nearly 30% of all new Rolls-Royces sold are Black Badge models and this momentum shows no sign of slowing down. Black Badge is an integral part of Rolls-Royce's future product strategy -- and that includes electric cars, too.
At an event in Miami, Florida this week, I sat down with the company's CEO, Torsten Müller-Ötvös, to talk about the future of Black Badge and electrification. When asked if the upcoming Spectre coupe will have a Black Badge model, Müller-Ötvös enthusiastically responded, "Yes, definitely."
"Rest assured we will have Black Badge in all our electric models in the future," Müller-Ötvös said. However, he maintains that while Rolls-Royce is quick to expand its Black Badge offerings, it will continue to leave its flagship Phantom alone. "We are not offering Black Badge Phantoms," he said. Given that car's ultra-exclusive nature, it makes total sense.
Rolls-Royce's upcoming Spectre is a sleek EV coupe
Black Badge cars are largely known for their somewhat sinister appearance, with blacked-out exterior elements on top of Rolls-Royce's nearly limitless personalization options. But Black Badge cars also offer a bit more behind-the-wheel verve, too, with added power, unique transmission programming, stiffer chassis settings and so on. How does that apply to the Spectre? Müller-Ötvös said he can't get into the specifics of that car just yet, but he assured me, "It will be a proper Black Badge product, that's for sure."
"We want to position electric [power] in a very emotional car," Müller-Ötvös said. "[The Spectre] is very much a driver's car."
To that end, this also partially explains why Rolls-Royce chose to go with a coupe for its first EV, rather than something with more mainstream appeal like a sedan or SUV. "That is, sorry to say, boring," Müller-Ötvös said, though of course the company's electric expansion will include additional body styles. And do note: The Spectre is not a replacement for the Wraith.
Rolls-Royce is part of the BMW Group, and Müller-Ötvös said his brand's plunge into electrification will be a lot easier thanks to the shared know-how of the larger corporate engineering teams. Still, Rolls-Royce's EVs will ride on the company's dedicated platform, and "we will make sure that the electric drivetrain is a Rolls-Royce electric drivetrain ... and that the car drives like a Rolls-Royce," Müller-Ötvös said.
Rolls-Royce's first EV will be the Spectre coupe, which is scheduled to go on sale in 2023. Expect the Black Badge version to follow soon thereafter.
2020 Rolls-Royce Wraith Black Badge is an exercise in excess