Rolls-Royce Debuts Fully Autonomous, Coach-Built Concept Car
Rolls-Royce predicts humans will still best the best at building luxury cars of the future
Rolls-Royce has debuted their first ever concept car, the VISION NEXT 100. Unveiled as part of parent company BMW’s centennial anniversary, the VISION NEXT 100 represents a view of what luxury vehicles could be in the coming decades. The Rolls-Royce design team initiated the project by developing four tenants that they feel represent luxury mobility in the future.
- The Personal Vision
- The Effortless Journey
- The Grand Sanctuary
- The Grand Arrival
The Personal Vision tenant represents the evolution of Rolls-Royce design and technology.
The striking exterior pays homage to Rolls-Royce cars of the present and past in profile. We see an adaptation of floating fenders over the front wheels which are in a way a throwback to cars of the early 20th century. The skirted wheels show off the detailed rims as a jewelry-like detail. But in the future Rolls says that customers will be able to commission their own concept. This is aided by advanced manufacturing technologies Rolls-Royce expects the industry will adopt. The overall shape and size as well as details can be tailored to individual customer preferences using a coach-building model. As much as possible, Rolls-Royce sees craftspeople directly responsible for hand-fabricating and assembling much of the future vehicles.
Synonymous with the Rolls-Royce brand has been the Spirit of Ecstasy sculpture created by Charles Sykes believed to be of actress Eleanor Thornton. She graces the VISION NEXT 100 on the exterior and also becomes the digital assistant and chauffeur ‘Eleanor’ inside the car. The VISION NEXT 100 operates fully autonomously and Eleanor is tasked with vehicle operation, route guidance, appointment reminders, and message delivery. What Rolls-Royce say is the future of an Effortless Journey.
The interior of the VISION NEXT 100 represents a Grand Sanctuary design approach that focuses on simplicity. Being a fully autonomous, all of the traditional driver controls have been removed leaving an open space occupied by an elegant sofa. A continuous wide screen display at the front of the cabin can display route information from Eleanor or entertainment media.
Rolls-Royce vehicles have throughout their history represented the status of success of their owners. The VISION NEXT 100 aims represent the future context of this with the Grand Arrival. This speaks to the reaction the design of the car elicits. Design inspiration was drawn from Rolls-Royce models of the 1920’s as well as marine vehicles. The VISION NEXT 100 appears to hover above the road surface on catamaran like pontoons. The front end continues to be reserved for the iconic Pantheon grille while the rear is shaped with a ‘boat-tail’ taper. Passengers ride inside a seamless looking glass canopy that extends the vehicles length from front to back. The VISION NEXT 100 incorporated unique storage for bespoke luggage in the side of the car and a pair of umbrellas in the single side door.
Following the lead of the BMW VISION NEXT 100, the Rolls-Royce edition exists more for an idealized world. But to see the arguably conservative brand reach this far out is unusual. While there’s zero chance of production for this car, Rolls-Royce is using the debut to reinforce their commitment to customer design involvement and handcrafted production techniques shows they hope what separates them from other luxury competitors.