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Electric Rolls-Royce unveiled at Geneva this week

02 March 2011

The Rolls-Royce 102EX - the Phantom Experimental Electric - unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show this week features a transmission system unique to this vehicle, which has been designed and manufactured by the high performance driveline specialist Xtrac. The transmission technology specialist has designed the transmission to harness the prodigious amounts of torque delivered by twin electric motors - and to do so in a quiet and refined manner befitting a Rolls-Royce!

The exclusive prototype transmission combines the output from the two electric motors to drive the super luxury car via a rear mounted differential - the final part of an electric powertrain all neatly housed at the rear of the vehicle. The electric motors are mounted on either side of the transmission, driving a series of constant mesh gears with an overall ratio of approximately 6-to-1.  The transmission features a lightweight aluminium alloy casing and the high strength helically ground gears were specifically designed for refinement and reliability. 

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars has launched a website to ignite a global debate around the car. Owners, media and Rolls-Royce enthusiasts are encouraged to contribute, feeding back thoughts, concerns and questions on the appropriateness of battery electric technology for super luxury cars.

“We’re delighted for this opportunity to help Rolls-Royce explore future alternative technologies relevant to a super luxury car and we will be eagerly monitoring the test results as well as the comments and feedback stimulated by this high profile vehicle,” says Xtrac managing director Peter Digby.  “Technically, the main challenge for the transmission was to come up with a compact design using modern lightweight and high strength materials that could be packaged in the space available without compromising the reliability and efficiency of the transmission. These objectives were met using skills that have been finely honed through our involvement in motorsport, where delivering driveline efficiency in ever more confined spaces is a never ending challenge.  The additional challenge for this vehicle was to deliver low noise and a high level of refinement.”

Xtrac has supplied transmissions for many prototype hybrid and electric vehicles for the automotive industry, building on its long established energy efficient motorsport initiatives. More recently it has been similarly involved in the transfer of advanced driveline technology to the aerospace, defence and marine industries. Because of this increasing diversification, Xtrac is frequently singled out as an exemplar of modern British manufacturing and often cited as a world class manufacturer of high performance products.

Last year, for example, the company took top honours in the Advanced Manufacturing category in the UK Manufacturer of the Year Awards and, as well as being overall runner-up, was shortlisted as a finalist for the Innovation and Design, Leadership and Strategy, and Best Small and Medium Enterprise awards. Earlier this year Xtrac was voted ‘Business of the Year’ by members of the Motorsport Industry Association (MIA).
“Lightness is the key to fuel economy and the gains made in motorsport for ever lighter but stronger solutions provide valuable technical insights applicable to modern passenger and utility vehicles,” says Xtrac general manager for automotive Clive Woolmer. “Whether for a pure electric vehicle or hybrid with range extending capabilities, Xtrac has gained considerable experience in this field enabling it to supply geartrain solutions optimised for efficiency and power transfer. For a super luxury electric vehicle, where refinement is also paramount, we can now additionally demonstrate an outstanding acoustic performance, which will become another important criterion for electric vehicle applications generally.”

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