Rolls-Royce Spectre Completes Winter Testing Near Arctic Circle

Rolls-Royce Spectre Completes Winter Testing Near Arctic Circle

A new Rolls-Royce motor car always begins its life in winter, and the upcoming Spectre is no different. At its winter testing, temperatures at the Bespoke facility used by the marque in Arjeplog, Sweden, 55 km from the Arctic circle, dropped to -26 degrees centigrade. At some point, it dropped further down to -40 degrees centigrade.

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 i.e. the first ‘lessons’ in a finishing school that will form the foundations of a motor car worthy of the marque. 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. As a true luxury brand, there is an additional component of winter testing that is of great importance to Rolls-Royce. This is defined by the marque’s engineers as ‘de-escalated time’, which enables incredible accuracy and control in creating the Rolls-Royce experience using Spectre’s chassis control systems, powertrain management and electronics control.Rolls-Royce_Spectre_Prototype

By driving on low traction surfaces such as snow and ice and willfully destabilising 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 parametrising 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 worthy of the marque. Following more than half a million kilometres of testing, 25% of this process has now been completed.

Rolls-Royce_Testing_Prototype_SpectreThis testing is also significant for the Spectre because it will be the luxury marque’s brand new all-electric motor car. The Spectre represents the fulfillment of a prophecy by Charles Rolls in 1900 when he said “The electric car is perfectly noiseless and clean. There is no smell or vibration. They should become very useful when fixed charging stations can be arranged”, after driving the Columbia electric car. Furthermore, co-founder Henry Royce began life as an electrical engineer and dedicated much of his life to creating internal combustion engines that simulated the characteristics of an electric car – silent running, instant torque, and the sensation of one endless gear.

Rolls-Royce 102EX_EVIn 2011, Rolls-Royce had showcased a fully electric Experimental Phantom concept called 102EX. This was followed by 103EX, a dramatic design study that anticipated a bold electric future for the marque. These experimental cars subsequently prompted significant interest from Rolls-Royce clients. They felt that the characteristics of an electric powertrain would fit perfectly with the brand.

Rolls-Royce Chief Executive Officer, Torsten Müller-Ötvös, responded to this with an unambiguous promise: Rolls-Royce will go electric, starting this decade. In September 2021, Charles Rolls’ prophecy and Torsten Müller-Ötvös’ promise led to a historic moment. Rolls-Royce confirmed that it had commenced testing of the first all-electric Rolls-Royce in history, Spectre. This extraordinary undertaking would be the most demanding testing program ever conceived by Rolls-Royce and would span 2.5 million kilometres, simulating more than 400 years of use for a Rolls-Royce, on average.

“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. It is for this reason that we have created a testing programme that is as significant and historical as Spectre itself. The extraordinary undertaking of educating Spectre to think and behave like a Rolls-Royce will cover 2.5 million kilometres, 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,” said Torsten Müller-Ötvös.

Leaders within the brand wanted the first fully electric Rolls-Royce to be highly emotional, something that shows that electric powertrain technology can deliver on the promise of such grand, seductive and compelling styling. So when it came to styling this new “Electric Super Coupé”, the designers considered the dimensions and emotionality of Phantom Coupé, and other grand coupés from Rolls-Royce’s past. Not only did they create this emotion with Spectre’s fastback silhouette and size, but they also carried forward a key design feature of Phantom Coupé: the iconic split headlights, a design tenet that Rolls-Royce has owned for many decades. Thus Spectre is considered to be Phantom Coupé’s spiritual successor.

Rolls-Royce_Aluminium ArchitectureThe 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″ wheels since 1926.

Furthermore, the flexibility of its architecture also enabled designers to dramatise 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.

Also, by moving the bulkhead location, designers and engineers have been able to deepen the dashboard location to truly cocoon passengers. This is amplified with a dramatically 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.

Meanwhile, 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 – 700 kg of sound deadening.

Rolls-Royce Spectre_Prototype_Rear“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’,” said Mihiar Ayoubi, Director of Engineering, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.

“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.”

Rolls-Royce Spectre_Spirit Of EcstasyRolls-Royce 3.0 is the integration of a fully electric power train and Decentralised Intelligence into the marque’s architecture. In component terms, the simplicity of the car has increased significantly. 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. 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.

Although the winter testing phase is completed, Spectre still has to continue with its global testing programme. The Electric Super Coupé has to complete nearly 2 million kilometres before the marque’s engineers will consider this undertaking complete prior to first customer deliveries in the 4th quarter of 2023.


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