Rolls-Royce 102EX: First Drive

The Rolls-Royce 102EX electric concept car is the answer to the question no Rolls-Royce owner ever asked. Namely: Should I buy a green car? Absurd! Fuel economy? The environment? Recharging? Bah! Those are problems for the poors.

Which is precisely why Rolls-Royce built this all-electric concept car. This is an era where evil socialist regulators force good, upstanding automakers to worry about the color green — and unbelievably, they're not talking about the color of the bills Rolls owners ask their man-servants to count for them.

So the 102EX is something different than the usual thinly-veiled production car with some pretty flair, sparkling paint, and a set of Department of Transportation rule-violating headlights. For Rolls-Royce it's a $3 million educational tool they're taking on a global tour to show current buyers that someday soon, hopefully before those Zuccotti Park rabble-rousers come to take away their hard-inherited money, they'll be able to buy a Rolls that works just the same as their old one, but does so with bureaucrat- and protestor-mollifying batteries and electric motors.

To that end, the car's basically just a regular Rolls-Royce Phantom with a 1,410 lb. power pack consisting of 96 lithium nickel cobalt manganese oxide laptop batteries shoehorned under the hood where the 6.7-liter V12 engine should be. And when I drove it this week here on the streets of New York City, I can say that not only does it look like it, but it drives just like a real dinosaur-burning Phantom.

Rolls-Royce 102EX: First Drive

Yes, in almost every way, this car seems just as ridiculously East Egg as any other Rolls. Not that Rolls-Royce really should care what I, or any other auto journalist, thinks about it — none of us are buying them.

Be that as it may, for the countless dozens of you for whom this review is relevant — when you put your foot down in this electric Phantom, it feels like a regular Phantom. Sure, the eight second 0-to-60 time isn't quit as sprightly as the V12 engine version's 5.7 seconds, but it's more than enough acceleration for Jeeves to get you away from the 99% clamoring for a morsel of bread dabbed with Grey Poupon. Because who wants to be touched by one of the poors? Eew. They're so dirty and... poor.

And a Rolls-Royce buyer shouldn't feel worried about the 100-or-so-mile range of the laptop batteries strapped together under the hood like stacks of hundred dollar bills. I'm told by David Archibald, president of Rolls-Royce MotorCars North America, that most Rolls-Royce buyers "take to the air well before they meet the upper limits of that range." Range anxiety certainly isn't an issue for the 1%.

Rolls-Royce 102EX: First Drive

Frankly, the only issue for the majority of Rolls rollers is whether it feels like a Rolls when you're in the back seat. And yes, it does. It's still as quiet as a tomb inside (more so, even, thanks to the complete absence of engine noise), it still drives as smoothly as a hot knife cutting through butter, and it still has all the delightful toys like umbrellas in the door, a rear-seat table/DVD system, and suicide doors (don't worry, it's Rolls, they can still call them "suicide" doors).

Because the goal of this multi-million-dollar electric-blue barge isn't to show off something Rolls-Royce plans to sell in even the next five years. Rather, it's to get Rolls-Royce buyers to embrace the far-off future. And when you're dealing with buyers this conservative — you need to start that process rolling sooner rather than later.