BMW has shown its vision of where its products are heading, and as a part of the legendary company, Rolls-Royce heads into the future with a “Vision” of the type of luxury its cars will provide to future customers.
The Rolls-Royce Vision Next 100 presents a completely personal, effortless and autonomous Rolls-Royce experience where the car is what the company calls a “Grand Sanctuary” for its occupants, enabling them to show up at events in a “Grand Arrival,” all the while maintaining the century-long key attributes that have made Rolls-Royce the preferred marque of the most discerning and powerful.
“The Grand Arrival of the Rolls-Royce Vision Next 100 boldly points to a bright future for our marque where our patrons’ individual demands for complete and authentic personalisation will be met through an exquisite fusion of technology, design and hallmark Rolls-Royce craftsmanship,” said Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Chief Executive Officer of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.
Introduced as part of BMW’s “The Next 100 Years,” the Vision Next 100 also celebrates the completion of the first phase of Rolls-Royce’s renaissance under the German marque (with the successful launches of Phantom, Ghost, Wraith and Dawn), though it’s more about the future than the past.
“With the Rolls-Royce Vision Next 100, we were mindful not to dwell on the past,” said Giles Taylor, Rolls-Royce’s Director of Design. “We wanted to be as innovative as possible and at the same time transcend the design history of the marque.”
The design process followed four basic visions — The Personal Vision, The Effortless Journey, The Grand Sanctuary and The Grand Arrival — rejecting the common notion of personal transportation as utilitarian and functional by proposing a no-compromise, fully autonomous, coach built, personalized vision to customers who wish for an emotional attachment to their cars.
In that respect, the Vision Next 100 becomes simply one example of the Rolls-Royce vision for the future, where a customer’s “Personal Vision” will influence the exact design of his/her Rolls-Royce and its exact configuration (through bespoke elements).
Rolls-Royce will create the hand-built chassis from advanced materials, and provide the zero-emissions powertrain, and then the customer takes over in designing the shape, size and silhouette to suit their needs and desires. That is a throwback to the early days of the automobile where companies built the workings of early vehicles and coachbuilders crafted an elegant skin to cover it all. In the future, each Rolls-Royce would be a unique, exquisite bespoke masterpiece that sets its owner/designer on his/her “Effortless Journey.”
Playing a prominent part in making that journey effortless will be the Voice of Eleanor, a virtual assistant that reminds owners of their schedules, making suggestions for their entertainment and switching their routes to get them where they need to be. The name is a throwback to actress/model Eleanor Thornton, who modeled for The Spirit of Ecstasy sculpted by artist Charles Sykes in 1911 (and which has adorned the hood of Rolls-Royces since).
Because the Vision Next 100 is fully autonomous, Eleanor will bring the car around when passengers are ready to embark on their journey, makes suggestions for stops or meals along the way when asked, deliver them curbside and go find a place to park the car until the return journey.
Of course the journey wouldn’t be effortless without Rolls-Royce’s legendary “magic carpet ride,” which uses an advances suspension that makes the car seem to hover over the road, while passengers are pampered in their Grand Sanctuary.
Themes of grace and elegance abound in the Vision Next 100 cabin, with passengers able to step into the futuristic handcrafted lounge without stooping, thanks to a wide-opening coach door that automatically deploys a step, and a clamshell roof. A red puddle light creates a virtual red carpet leading to the interior.
As expected, the cabin is steeped in the most opulent materials (Macassar wood, silk upholstery and wool carpeting), but maintains an airy and simple presentation.
The presentation is similar to coaches that predated the automobile and the industry’s early limousines, only without a chauffeur. Rather, the front wall of the cabin (where a steering wheel and instrumentation might sit) is occupied by a wall to wall OLED screen (Organic Light Emitting Diode) that provides information on the journey route, the appointment to which they’re travelling, the people they are meeting with, or simply the latest streaming film or live musical performance.
As a heritage cue, the signature analogue clock residing front and centre in the cabin provides a countdown to their Grand Arrival.
Crowds have always been impressed by the arrival of dignitaries in their Rolls-Royce limousines, and that continues with the Vision Next 100’s imposing (it stretches nearly six metres and stands 1.6 meters tall) futuristic presence, which maintains the traditional Rolls-Royce cues of long hood, and the pantheon grille topped with a glass The Spirit of Ecstasy.
The red R-R badge designates an experimental car, while a polished metal accent line flows from the grille around the exquisite features of the body, creating a two-tone design scheme (the upper half dark glass; the lower a silky metallic Crystal Water).
The effortless travel theme is carried over to the outside, where covered 28-inch wheels are located by exposed suspension components. The body is, perhaps fittingly, finished off in a boat tail.
A luggage compartment (which comes with two Grand Tourer cases and opens automatically on embarkation and disembarkation) occupies part of the engine bay in previous eras occupied by a V-12 engine (which Rolls-Royce says will unlikely exist in the future).
“The Grand Arrival gesture of the Rolls-Royce VISION NEXT 100 creates a stage for our important passengers as they arrive at their ultimate destination,” concludes Taylor. “It is an expression of our intrinsic understanding of the possibilities for a true luxury brand and the desires of its customers.”