With the 103EX Concept the design team had to address two further questions: “What will a Rolls-Royce owner expect of his or her Rolls-Royce in the coming decades?” and “How do we at Rolls-Royce today envision how we meet those expectations?”.
As Giles Taylor, Director of Design, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, explained: “With the Rolls-Royce VISION NEXT 100 we were mindful not to dwell on the past. We wanted to be as innovative as possible and at the same time transcend the design history of the marque.”
Below we report a selection information on the design, edited from the official press release.
The 103EX is based on four basic principles:
- The Personal Vision
- The Effortless Journey
- The Grand Sanctuary
- The Grand Arrival
The Personal Vision
Designers envision a future where, much like with today’s Rolls-Royce Bespoke experience, the customers’ will be able to influence the exact design of their vehicle and how it will be configured.
This is made possible by the adoption of an approach inspired by the world of great coachbuilders of the past. An advanced chassis, hand-built from the most advanced materials and powered by a zero emissions powertrain, will be coupled with a body developed specifically for each individual customer thanks to the use of advanced manufacturing technologies.
The Effortless Journey
One of the goal of the Rolls-Royce Vision Next 100 is to offer an outstanding traveling experience, achieved through an autonomous driving mode and an artificial intelligence-powered virtual assistant/chauffeur called Eleanor, a name that pays tribute to Eleanor Thornton, the model used in 1911 by sculptor and artist Charles Sykes for the Spirit of Ecstasy.
Today, the ‘Voice of Eleanor’ inhabits the Rolls-Royce VISION NEXT 100. The assistant/chauffeur is digitally connected to every aspect of her owners’ lives and her surrounding environment.
The Effortless Journey is also enhanced by the ‘magic carpet ride’ delivered through a blend of a futuristic, powerful, zero-emission drivetrain and advanced suspension that sees the vehicle almost skim across the road surface.
The Grand Sanctuary – Interior Design
Passengers are cocooned in the futuristic but handcrafted lounge atmosphere, the coach door and clamshell canopy glide closed to envelop them in uninterrupted silence and luxury.
The premium materials are combined with a new feeling of lightness and simplicity, an effortless elegance.
The cabin is encircled by the most modern handcrafted fine-line Macassar wood panelling, sweeping across the interior from the coach door, continuing around behind the generous OLED screen and up beside the second passenger to the side of the sofa. This ensures a continuous, beautifully clean and sculptural surface when the screen is extinguished.
The centerpiece of the cabin is the beautiful sofa. The best seat in the house, it is an exquisite, futuristic interpretation of modern furniture design. Clothed in the most opulent fabrics, it gives the impression of floating within the cocoon of the cabin thanks to the artful use of lighting and modern materials.
Inspired by the early regal Rolls-Royces, but also by the ground-breaking work executed on the 2015 Phantom Serenity, the designers used the symbol of ultimate elegance – silk – to clothe the sofa. This most natural and sensual of materials is combined with wool to create a beautifully textured, colored luxurious throne upon which our passengers are conveyed, and from which they command.
A final sensual touchpoint within the cabin is the finest one-off deep-pile ivory wool carpet woven especially in London, which our passengers can enjoy as they luxuriate in the ample space created by the removal of the chauffeur.
This sense of space is accentuated as our passengers’ view from their seats is uninterrupted by a cockpit or steering wheel which are now superfluous. Fr
The transparent OLED screen that dominates the front wall of the cabin displays all the necessary information.
The analogue clock that hovers in a central position above the screen serves both as a reminder of Sir Henry Royce’s humble beginnings as an electrical pioneer making electric dynamos, and of time as the ultimate luxury.
“Rolls-Royce design today is the epitome of elegance,” Taylor comments, “and this elegance is achieved through simplicity of design under which lies the technology that makes our patrons experience effortless.”
The Grand Arrival – Exterior Design
For the future, Rolls-Royce believes that its customers will wish to continue projecting their status through their exclusive cars.
This is reflected in the iconic, imposing and futuristic presence which ensures a Grand Arrival for its occupants.
The sleek, futuristic lines are combined with a number trademark styling elements: the Spirit of Ecstasy, the Pantheon grille, the long bonnet and the iconic proportions of the entire vehicle.
The imposing dimensions – 5.9 meters long and 1.6 meters high – mirror the dimensions of today’s Phantom Extended Wheelbase, whilst the ever constant Spirit of Ecstasy grows in stature, harking back to the regal Phantoms of the 1920s.
Hand-crafted by the finest European glassmakers of today, she lights the way to the future of luxury. She is poised atop the re-imagined, yet still iconic, Pantheon grille with the red Double-R badge of an experimental Rolls-Royce.
From these timeless icons of Rolls-Royce design flow the graceful, sweeping lines and expressive surfaces that combine to create a completely futuristic vision of a possible Rolls-Royce exterior.
The polished metal of the grille flows up over the nose, around the base of the Spirit of Ecstasy and along the top of the suspended laser-headlight hoops, before narrowing to shoot down the side of the vehicle’s long bonnet, as a dividing line between upper and lower sections of the car. Not stopping at the extremes of the bonnet, this beautiful metal feature creates a beautiful ‘horseshoe’ as it flows along the top edge of the coach door, describes a parabola up and over the pronounced rear shoulder, encircling the rear of the glass canopy and back down the other flank.
This dividing line accentuates the car’s two-tone design scheme. The upper section is entirely comprised of dark glass. It flows fluidly as a daring fastback, creating a glass canopy over the occupants that provides privacy whilst allowing them to contemplate the majesty of the stars in the firmament above as they glide through the night; a window on the world ahead before resolving itself into the bonnet of the car.
The lower section is more dramatic in its design and in what it achieves. Draped in a silk-like ‘Crystal Water’ color scheme, its surfacing achieves a lightness that belies the vehicle’s size. This is automotive ‘Haute Couture’. From whatever angle the Rolls-Royce VISION NEXT 100 is viewed, it seems to float, whether at rest or in motion.
This lightness is achieved through the paring back of this vehicle to the essence of a Rolls-Royce by the Design team, who were freed from their current constraints by the new propulsion and coach-build technologies now available to them. So, for example, where an engine would once have occupied the entire under-bonnet area of the car, a luggage compartment is positioned just aft of the front wheels.
The luggage compartment opens automatically following arrival and disembarkation, presenting two Grand Tourer cases. In the case of the Rolls-Royce VISION NEXT 100, the cases are fittingly personalised to CS Rolls and FH Royce.
The newly liberated Pantheon grille is now the unencumbered prow of the Rolls-Royce VISION NEXT 100. It is the front of a fully enclosed and smooth-bottomed hull that echoes the form language of 1920’s Rolls-Royces, with its ‘boat-tail’, and within which the entire accommodation area is located.
Constructed from light yet incredibly strong materials, the hull ‘floats’ above the road surface as it is suspended from the vehicle’s wheels via exposed arms and struts.
The 28-inch tall but narrow wheels upon which the car glides are each hand-built from 65 individual pieces of aluminium, and enclosed to deliver the impression of a futuristic catamaran.
Seen from the side, the coachwork delivers hallmark Rolls-Royce privacy to the occupants as it rises gracefully like a fine cloak over the shoulders at the rear of the car. However, this fine drapery flatters to deceive as this rear shoulder line also imparts an air of powerful but graceful forward motion, accentuated by the rising beltline that thrusts upwards in a manner reminiscent of the great pre-war Rolls-Royces.
Rolls-Royce and the Grand Arrival
In the era of the stately carriage, and even of the early coachbuilt limousine, one was guaranteed an arrival befitting one’s stature. As we have seen, the exterior design and adornment of such conveyances announced one’s importance, as did the luxurious appointment of the interior.
However, one other aspect of such vehicles contributed to their suitability for such occasions: their elevated position, suspended as they were on large wheels. Combined with the high ceiling typical of carriage or limousine, one could normally stand before stepping out in a graceful and dignified manner. Modern aerodynamic considerations meant that even modern limousines’ rooflines had to be lowered, thereby reducing headroom and requiring one to stoop slightly when alighting from one’s vehicle.
Unwilling to accept such stricture and compromise in the future, Giles Taylor and his team set to work to reinstate the Grand Arrival as it should be.
The Grand Arrival of the Rolls-Royce VISION NEXT 100 is first signaled by the Spirit of Ecstasy and Pantheon grille illuminating to cast an ethereal, otherworldly glow from the front of the car. As this vision of the future gracefully sweeps up to its destination, the ethereal glow spreads from the trailing edge of the front wheel arch to the rear of the single coach door, signaling that something momentous is about to happen. As the Rolls-Royce VISION NEXT 100 gracefully comes to a halt, something magnificent occurs.
Hinged on the left of the vehicle, the glass canopy lifts to allow the occupant to stand whilst providing shelter from above and behind. Then, in one effortless movement, the single coach door sweeps open and a step emerges from below the running board. As a final flourish, a red light is projected, carpet-like, from the underside of the step as a welcome.
Rolls-Royce and the BMW Group
This ‘Vision Vehicle’ is one of four announced by the BMW Group in Munich on 7 March 2016, as it launched its centenary celebrations – THE NEXT 100 YEARS. In addition to being the centenary of the BMW Group, 2016 also represents a seminal moment in the history of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.
For Rolls-Royce, the end of production of the seventh generation Phantom represents the completion of the first phase of the Rolls-Royce brand’s renaissance under BMW Group custodianship. The success of Phantom, Ghost, Wraith and now Dawn serves as the foundation for a new chapter.