Exactly a year ago, at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show, BMW owned Rolls Royce, the purveyor of bespoke luxury cars that are known to ferry royalty and state heads across the world, showcased the Rolls Royce 102EX all-electric car concept that ran on electric motors powered by a lithium ion battery stack. A lot can change in a year’s time and a remarkable change it has been indeed, with Rolls Royce now planning to dump the all-electric mode and adopt a range extending series hybrid design for its ultra low emission luxury car models of the future.
This dramatic turnaround comes on the face of the infrastructure to charge all-electric cars still not being widely distributed even as the limitations of battery range continues to be a major bottleneck as battery technology simply hasn’t kept up with the requirements of the daily running of a modern day automobile. So, the logical step in order to cut both tail pipe emissions as well as running costs is to go with range extending series hybrid technology, which involves the usage of a small, fuel efficient internal combustion engine as a generator to recharge the car’s batteries on the go, which in turn will drive the electric motors.
Since the internal combustion engine, that acts as a generator, can be programmed to run at the most efficient rpm level for best performance and fuel economy, it will be fuel efficient as well as result in low emissions. This will also result in a much higher range per tank of fuel, eliminating the issue of a low range that all-electric cars are saddled with. In Rolls Royce’s case, the quietness of the engine can also be achieved due to the low rpms at which the engine can run, as the brand is synonymous with powerful cars that simply waft along.
This technology has been used successfully on the Chevrolet Volt, which was one of the first cars in the world to use the range extending series hybrid power. More and more car makers across the world seem to be turning towards series hybrid technology to increase range of their cars, which would otherwise have not been feasible on all-electric cars. Therefore, expect to see more and more of series hybrid technology equipped cars in the future as this technology provides the best of both worlds, the low emissions of an electric motor and the high range of an internal combustion engine.