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Next Rolls-Royce Phantom Cuts Weight, Offers Plug-In Hybrid

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Rolls-Royce is known for many attributes. Luxury. Expense. Cars with performance wryly described as "adequate".

Light weight and frugality are two attributes you won't often find in cars assembled by the British luxury marque, though the next-generation Phantom flagship could offer both--by Rolls-Royce standards, at least.

According to Autocar, Rolls-Royce has now started work on the next-generation Phantom, and while it's still in its early stages--various designs are still being sketched--a few details are starting to emerge.

Unfortunately, a pure electric version is still highly unlikely.

MORE: Rolls-Royce Considering Plug-In Hybrid Luxury Sedan

While the 102EX concept went down well for its excellent performance and truly Rolls-Royce worthy levels of silence, customer feedback revealed few were willing to put up with the range compromises of an electric variant.

A plug-in hybrid though is described as a "certainty".

It would fix the issue of "unacceptable" range and recharging times mentioned by customers of the 102EX, but providing the low-down power surge and refinement they expect.

It could also be vital for making the car viable in emissions-restricted European cities, and increasingly electric-conscious markets like China.

Reducing the Phantom's heft is also on the drawing table. The current model, launched in 2003, tips the scales at over 5,600 lbs, but weight reductions would be beneficial for just about every area of the car's dynamics.

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

At the moment, the company is deciding whether to go down parent company BMW's route of an aluminum and carbon fiber mix, as found on the i3 and i8 plug-ins.

It's strong and adaptable, and could allow for pillarless construction--giving the cars an extra dash of classic elegance.

It would, however, require enough carbon fiber reinforced plastic for an extra thousand vehicles annually--a tricky task, even with BMW's announcement that its Washington state carbon plant is set to triple its output.

Design chief Giles Taylor told Autocar the next-gen Phantom will look "less formal" than the current car, giving it more charisma and "edge".

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