Rich folks say 'no thanks' to electric Rolls-Royce

@PeterDrivesMay 22, 2012: 3:19 PM ET

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- When Rolls-Royce unveiled its all-electric version of the Phantom luxury sedan in March of 2011, they wanted to gather customer feedback to see if this was something the world's wealthiest people might pay for.

Turns out it's not.

Rolls-Royce said Tuesday that it will not put the gargantuan plug-in car into production. The automaker blames a lack of charging infrastructure.

"The majority of the replies were that the technology is good, but the infrastructure isn't there yet to drive these cars a sufficient number of miles," Rolls-Royce spokesman Oleg Satanovsky said.

Rolls-Royce had estimated that the car, officially called the 102EX, could go about 125 miles on a full charge thanks to massive battery packs -- the largest in any passenger vehicles -- stuffed under its extra-long hood.

The decision not to build the electric Phantom was first reported by Motor Trend.

The car was taken on a world tour during which it was shown off to prospective customers and the media.

Only one model was ever built.

From the outside, its most distinguishing feature was a unique translucent "Spirit or Ecstasy" hood ornament that glowed with a soft blue light.

The gasoline-powered Rolls-Royce Phantom production car is an extremely large, heavy and expensive automobile. With a base price of $380,000, the standard gasoline-powered Phantom weighs a little over 5,500 pounds -- almost as much as a Chevrolet Tahoe full-sized SUV -- and is powered by a 453-horsepower 6.8-liter V12 engine. It gets 11 miles per gallon in city driving and about 18 on the highway, according to EPA estimates.

No price was ever announced for the proposed electric car.

Many automakers have electric cars on the market or coming soon, albeit some in very small numbers. Much of the activity is driven by regulations in California requiring automakers to sell a certain number of "zero emission" vehicles.

Increasingly stringent fuel economy rules in Europe and the U.S. also have automakers at all price levels looking at ways to burn less gasoline. Ferrari, for instance, is expected to begin selling a hybrid sports car later this year.

Rolls-Royce is a subsidiary of the German luxury carmaker BMW, which also owns the British compact car brand Mini. Both BMW and Mini have previously launched experimental fleets of electric cars.

BMW has even launched its own electric car subsidiary called BMWi. The new subsidiary will launch in 2013 with two vehicles, the BMW i3, a small "city car," and, later, the BMW i8, a high-performance plug-in hybrid car.

Rolls-Royce will continue to pursue alternative fuel options, Satanovsky said, but for now all Rolls-Royce cars will run purely on gasoline.

"Hopefully, within a short time, we'll have something new to test out," Satanovsky said. To top of page

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