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Rolls-Royce Considers Plug-In Hybrid Luxury Sedan

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In theory, electric power is perfect for Rolls-Royce. What better source of propulsion than a quiet electric motor, for a company that strives for ultimate refinement?

In practice though, Rolls-Royce customers weren't keen on the range and charging limitations of the 102EX concept the company developed.

They may be more receptive of plug-in hybrids though, and the British luxury automaker is considering just such a model, according to Auto Express (via Autoblog Green).

The company is considering a model largely for legislation reasons--emissions regulations will make it more and more difficult to sell the large, gasoline-powered vehicles Rolls-Royce specializes in.

Such regulations prompted the firm to explore electric power with the imperious 102EX concept, but while customers loved the performance, they were less keen on typical electric car limitations.

"A Rolls-Royce cannot come with any kind of compromise", Torsten Müller-Otvos told Auto Express. "Both the recharging times and the range were not acceptable for our buyers".

MORE: Electric Rolls-Royce Phantom 102EX: Quick Drive

Hybrid technology is one way of side-stepping those issues, providing the range and abilities customers expect, but reducing emissions and offering an electrically-assisted surge at the same time.

It's likely Rolls-Royce's plug-in hybrid car would use technology from parent company BMW.

While the luxury carmaker is now a self-sustaining business without outside influence from BMW, the prohibitive cost of developing an all-new plug-in powertrain means BMW's help may be invaluable in getting such a car to market.

Müller-Otvos also hints that a plug-in hybrid vehicle may not result in a significant price increase either.

While money isn't a problem for the typical Rolls-Royce customer, he says, "they want to know what they are getting for their money".

Any plug-in therefore has to represent a suitable improvement for the customer, and any significant change in market position is unlikely.

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