The Rolls-Royce VISION NEXT 100 – “a vision of the future of luxury mobility.”
No steering wheel, but there is a silk throne. Rolls-Royce unveiled its first driverless vehicle. Codenamed 103EX, it is the marque’s first ever pure ‘Vision Vehicle’. The official statement was short on technical specifications but abundant in ostentatious description.
Yet whilst it 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 bonnet and the iconic proportions of the entire vehicle.
At 5.9 meters long and 1.6 metres high, it 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. She is poised atop the re-imagined, yet still iconic, Pantheon grille with the red Double-R badge of an experimental Rolls-Royce.
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 upon which the car glides are each hand-built from 65 individual pieces of aluminium, and enclosed to deliver the impression of a futuristic catamaran.
In creating the Rolls-Royce VISION NEXT 100, the Rolls-Royce Motor Cars design team, led by Director of design Giles Taylor, asked themselves the question, “How can we recast luxury for the next 100 years?” Within that question the team found that they had to address two further questions: “What will a Rolls-Royce owner expect of his or her Rolls-Royce in the coming decades?” and “How do we at Rolls-Royce today envision how we meet those expectations?”. These questions allowed the team to dream of the staggering possibilities for Rolls-Royce’s
“The Rolls-Royce patron will continue to be a famous figure in the future,” explained Giles Taylor, Rolls-Royce Director of Design. 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 through the momentous events of their lives.
Today, the ‘Voice of Eleanor’ inhabits the Rolls-Royce VISION NEXT 100, delivering the dream of an effortless future to her owners. Digitally connected to every aspect of her owners’ lives and her surrounding environment, ‘Eleanor’ becomes their virtual assistant and chauffeur, freeing them of all effort and encumbrance. Imbued with her own artificial intelligence, she works intuitively
to advise her owners on itineraries, schedules and options before they leave their residence, reminding about appointments and tasks and making suggestions to ease any anticipated impediments.
She ‘brings’ the car around when her passengers are ready to travel and, whilst conveying her charges to their next destination, helpfully but discreetly makes suggestions and recommendations, briefing them ahead of their arrival so they are ready to ‘perform’. And ever vigilant, ‘Eleanor’ safely delivers her passengers to their destination, having already predicted the situation and surroundings that await them.
This Effortless Journey is enhanced by the hallmark Rolls-Royce ‘magic carpet ride’ delivered through a blend of a futuristic, powerful, zero-emission drivetrain and advanced suspension that sees the vehicle almost skim across the road surface. As a V12 combustion engine is most unlikely to exist in the future, one can only surmise how this Rolls-Royce will be powered. A hint may appear in the Grand Sanctuary that is the interior of the Rolls-Royce VISION NEXT 100.
True to this spirit, the cabin is encircled by the most modern handcrafted fine- line Macassar wood panelling, 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, beautifully clean and sculptural surface when the screen is extinguished.
The centrepiece of the cabin is the sofa. The best seat in the house, it is an exquisite, futuristic interpretation of modern furniture design. Clothed in the most 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, but also by the work executed on the 2015 Phantom Serenity, the designers used the symbol of ultimate elegance – silk – to clothe the sofa.
A final sensual touchpoint within the cabin is the finest one-off deep-pile ivory wool carpet woven especially in London, which Rolls-Royce passengers can enjoy as they luxuriate in the ample space created by the removal of the chauffeur.