Concept cars are meant to push the edges of what’s possible, but the Rolls Royce Vision Next 100 (codenamed 103EX) has taken that idea to a level that most other brands could only hope to achieve. Revealed earlier today at the London Roundhouse, Rolls Royce’s first-ever pure concept in its 105-year history is a fully autonomous vehicle that for all intents and purposes is a rolling luxury living room.
Paying homage to the company’s heritage of creating luxurious and handcrafted vehicles, Rolls Royce describes the Vision Next 100 as more than a means of transport; it’s both a sanctuary and a statement.
Let’s start with the fact that the Vision Next 100 is designed without the need for a driver. There’s no steering wheel, dashboard or anything resembling a way for a passenger to take control if necessary. Clearly, Rolls Royce is envisioning a world in which autonomous vehicles are the norm.
The seating arrangement is a silk-covered sofa ensconced in Macassar wood paneling and trim, and deep-pile wool carpet with room for two, possibly three adults. An OLED screen gives you information about your trip, destination and more than likely the people you’ll meet when you arrive. Heading on a longer trip or bored with what’s going on outside? Watch a movie.
Rolls Royce has done away with the behemoth V-12s that power today’s models. Instead, two 250 kW electric motors, one mounted inboard between the two front wheels and the other inboard between the rear wheels, quietly propel the Vision Next 100 and its passengers.
Considering the vehicle comes in at 5.9 meters (19.4 ft) in length and 1.6 meters (5.2 ft) high, it may need every watt those two motors can generate.
Resembling a catamaran on wheels, the Vision Next 100 body is a combination of metals and an all-dark glass top. The 28-inch wheels are hand-made from 65 individual pieces of aluminum.
Hearkening back to a time when passengers of horseless carriages were able to enter and exit without having to stoop to avoid hitting their head, the Vision Next 100 incorporates a clamshell-style hinged roof that automatically rises from the left to allow passengers to exit fully upright. A footstep deploys from the side of the car and a red light illuminates the way.
There’s very little on this concept that isn’t automated, and much of it is controlled by the Rolls Royce version of Siri called Eleanor, a nod to Eleanor Thornton who was the inspiration for the Spirit of Ecstasy figure that adorns the hood of every Rolls Royce.
On command, Eleanor would be able to deliver the Vision Next 100 to your door, plot your course, and ensure the vehicle arrives at the correct destination.
BMW has clearly made good on its efforts to continue positioning Rolls Royce as an exclusive premier luxury brand after a back and forth with Volkswagen in the late ’90s and early 2000s over who owned what elements of the marque. Since gaining full control over the brand, BMW has silenced most skeptics with the Rolls Royce Phantom, Ghost, Wraithand the recently introduced Dawn.
The future in which a vehicle even vaguely resembling the Vision Next 100 could be viable may be some years away, but as with any concept, it will be interesting to see which elements of this one end up in a Rolls Royce – sooner or later.
To get an even better sense of the Rolls Royce Vision Next 100, take a look at the video.