Rolls-Royce revealed its vision for the future at an event in London today. A proposal for a top-of-the range autonomous luxury product that comprises the company’s hallmarks in design, craftsmanship and technology, the Vision Next 100 concept responds to consumers’ growing desire to own personalized vehicles catering to their individual needs.
Codenamed 103EX, the Rolls-Royce Vision Next 100 (which celebrates parent company BMW’s 100th anniversary) is the marque’s first ever pure ‘Vision Vehicle’. Looking far ahead into the future, the Rolls-Royce Vision Next 100 embodies a vision unbridled by technological and scientific constraints. This gave the design team freedom to visualize the future of luxury mobility through several facets whilst simultaneously creating a vehicle that is in tune with the brand’s philosophy.
“With the Rolls-Royce Vision Next 100 we were mindful not to dwell on the past. We wanted to be as innovative as possible and at the same time transcend the design history of the marque,” says Rolls-Royce design director Giles Taylor.
The designers therefore distilled four key tenets that epitomize the future of luxury mobility. They are defined as ‘Personal Vision’, ‘Effortless Journey’, ‘Grand Sanctuary’ and ‘The Grand Arrival’.
The Personal Vision
The Rolls-Royce Vision Next 100 one example of a number of possible personal visions for the future, as the customers’ taste will influence the exact design of his or her Rolls-Royce and how it will be configured.
In the spirit of the great coachbuilt cars of the past, Rolls-Royce will create the chassis of the future, hand-built from advanced materials and powered by a zero emissions powertrain, while advanced manufacturing technologies will enable customers to involve themselves even more in the design of the shape, size and silhouette of their personal Rolls-Royce vision.
In short, the Rolls-Royce Vision Next 100 proposes to utilize envisioned advances in technology to herald the return to authentic coachbuilding, which will augment the customer’s lifestyle.
“The Rolls-Royce patron will continue to be a famous figure in the future,” explains Taylor. “I envision that the Rolls-Royce Vision Next 100 will play a key role in these people’s lives, guiding and conveying them effortlessly through their life’s journey in an exquisite sanctuary where they can reflect in peace ahead of arriving in the grandest style.”
The Effortless Journey
For the 105 years since her creation in 1911, the Spirit of Ecstasy — modeled by sculptor and artist Charles Sykes, on Eleanor Thornton — has silently guided every Rolls-Royce and its owner. Today, the ‘Voice of Eleanor’ inhabits the Rolls-Royce Vision Next 100, delivering the dream of an effortless future to owners.
Digitally connected to every aspect of the owners’ lives and surrounding environment, ‘Eleanor’ becomes their virtual assistant and chauffeur, freeing occupants of all effort though artificial intelligence. ‘Eleanor’ works intuitively to advise on itineraries, schedules and options. The system reminds the user of their appointments and tasks and makes suggestions to ease any anticipated impediments.
The virtual assistant summons the autonomous vehicle car when passengers are ready to travel and, whilst conveying her charges to their next destination, helpfully but discreetly makes suggestions and recommendations. And ever vigilant, ‘Eleanor’ safely delivers passengers to their destination, having already predicted the situation and surroundings that await them.
The Grand Sanctuary
The Grand Sanctuary – aka cabin – is a futuristic handcrafted lounge atmosphere, accessed by coach doors and a clamshell canopy. As one would expect from a Rolls-Royce, the environment is crafted from precious and contemporary materials to convey a feeling of lightness and simplicity.
The centerpiece of the cabin is the sofa. Clothed in opulent fabrics, it gives the impression of floating within the cocoon of the cabin thanks to the artful use of lighting and modern materials. Inspired by the early regal Rolls-Royces, the designers used silk – the symbol of ultimate elegance – combined with wool to create a textured, ivory-colored throne upon which passengers are conveyed.
The cabin is encircled by modern handcrafted fine-line Macassar wood paneling, sweeping across the interior from the coach door, continuing around behind the generous OLED screen and up beside the second passenger to the side of the sofa. This ensures a continuous, clean and sculptural surface when the screen is extinguished.
On the opposite end of the sofa lies a transparent OLED screen that dominates the front wall of the cabin. Here passengers can view information regarding their journey, their destination and the people they are expecting to meet — which ‘Eleanor’ will graciously provide.
A finely crafted analogue clock that hovers in a central position above the screen, which serves both as a reminder of Sir Henry Royce’s humble beginnings as an electrical pioneer making electric dynamos, and of time as the ultimate luxury.
A final sensual touchpoint within the cabin is the one-off deep-pile ivory wool carpet woven in London, which passengers can enjoy in the ample space created by the removal of the chauffeur.
“Rolls-Royce design today is the epitome of elegance,” Taylor comments, “and this elegance is achieved through simplicity of design under which lies the technology that makes our patrons experience effortless.”
The Grand Arrival
In the future, Rolls-Royce believes that its powerful patrons will wish to continue projecting their power and status with a stately arrival at their destination, and the company satisfies this need in decadent form.
This truth is reflected in the most dramatic aspect of the Rolls-Royce 103EX powerfully expresses the future of luxury, it remains constant to the iconic tropes of any true Rolls-Royce: The Spirit of Ecstasy, the Pantheon grille, the long hood and the iconic proportions of the entire vehicle announce the importance of its precious cargo.
At 5900mm long and 1600mm tall, the concept mirrors the dimensions of today’s Phantom Extended Wheelbase, whilst the ever constant Spirit of Ecstasy grows in stature, harking back to the regal Phantoms of the 1920s. Hand-crafted by the finest European glassmakers of today, she lights the way to the future of luxury. She is poised atop the re-imagined, yet still iconic, Pantheon grille with the red Double-R badge of an experimental Rolls-Royce.
The polished metal of the grille flows up over the nose, around the base of the Spirit of Ecstasy and along the top of the suspended laser-headlight hoops, before narrowing to shoot down the side of the vehicle’s long hood, as a dividing line between upper and lower sections of the car. Not stopping at the extremes of the hood, this grille creates a horseshoe shape as it flows along the top edge of the coach door and describes a parabola up and over the pronounced rear shoulder before encircling the rear of the glass canopy and back down the other flank.
This dividing line accentuates the car’s two-tone design scheme. The upper section is entirely comprised of dark glass. It flows fluidly as a daring fastback, creating a glass canopy over the occupants that provides privacy. The lower section is more dramatic in its design and in what it achieves. Draped in a silk-like ‘Crystal Water’ color scheme; its surfacing achieves a lightness that belies the vehicle’s size. This is automotive ‘Haute Couture’.
This lightness is achieved through the paring back of this vehicle to the essence of a Rolls-Royce by the design team, who were freed from their current constraints by the new propulsion and coach-build technologies now available to them. So, for example, where an engine would once have occupied the entire under-hood area of the car, a luggage compartment is positioned just aft of the front wheels.
In conceiving this bold vision of the future of luxury, the designers remain steadfast in their commitment to imbuing every element of the Rolls-Royce experience with effortlessness. The luggage compartment therefore opens automatically following arrival and disembarkation, presenting two Grand Tourer cases. In the case of the Rolls-Royce Vision Next 100, the cases are fittingly personalized to CS Rolls and FH Royce.
The newly liberated Pantheon grille is now the unencumbered prow of the 103EX. It is the front of a fully enclosed and smooth-bottomed hull that echoes the form language of 1920’s Rolls-Royces, with its ‘boat-tail’, and within which the entire accommodation area is located.
Constructed from light yet incredibly strong materials, the hull ‘floats’ above the road surface as it is suspended from the vehicle’s wheels via exposed arms and struts. The 28-inch tall but narrow wheels are each hand-built from 65 individual pieces of aluminum, and enclosed to deliver the impression of a futuristic catamaran.
Seen from the side, the coachwork delivers hallmark Rolls-Royce privacy to the occupants as it rises like a fine cloak over the shoulders at the rear of the car. The rear shoulder line also imparts an air of powerful but graceful forward motion, accentuated by the rising beltline that thrusts upwards in a manner reminiscent of the great pre-war Rolls-Royces.
Whilst this radical new design language also contributes to an effortless, unruffled journey thanks to improved airflow and reduced air resistance, its unquestioned drama delivers a grand arrival.
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