In the future, luxury cars will be sleek, driverless, silent machines operated via artificial intelligence.
That is the vision of Rolls Royce Motor Cars, unveiled in a stunning experimental concept car at the manfacturing base in Chichester yesterday.
With its sweeping black canopy opening like a clam shell and at almost six metres long, the 103EX appeared to have not so much personality as stage presence as onlookers gathered in hushed murmers over champagne.
Global communications manager Andrew Ball said the end result was ‘definitely a bit of theatre’.
He said: “I’d worked on the car for a long time before I saw the actual car, I’d seen pictures and visualisations of what it would look like.
“When I first saw it in a studio when it was unveiled, it was the first car when I was genuinely speechless.”
Enthusiasts at the event were similarly impressed by the futuristic design, although some noted the low-set pontoon wheels wouldn’t do well with potholes.
One visitor commented: “I’ve owned a lot of Rolls-Royce and it fits the bill very well, don’t bother with practicality, it’s all about the luxury.”
For others, the sight of the electric-powered model evoked a sense of pride in belonging to the area.
Chris Coopey, a partner in Sussex-based firm Carpenter Box, said: “For me, the fact that we make things like this in West Sussex is absolutely fabulous.
“There are so many engineers and designers around that people don’t know about. Rolls-Royce are the top of it.”
The concept behind the car, which has no front seats or driving controls, was largely based on luxury spaces such as yachts and hotels instead of other road vehicles.
Interior designer Douglas Hogg said the team had set up a foam box to sit in with movable walls to gauge the right size for the seating area.
“One of the challenges we had with the car was how much space is too much space, you don’t want to feel like your in the back of a van,” he explained. “There’s 1.6 metres inside from where you are sitting to the front wall. That’s enough space to swing your legs comfortably.”
Other design features, such as a luggage compartment behind the front wheels and silk-cotton sofa-like seats were the work of exterior designer Henry Cloke and material expert Cherica Haye.
A pureply conceptual car, the 103EX does not yet come with seat belts or indeed, a visible plug socket for its electric engine, but the theoretical AI concierge is most definitely called Eleanor, after the woman who inspired the ‘spirit of ecstasy’ that adorns the front bonnet.
For news on Rolls-Royce and Brexit, click here.
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