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Vision NEXT 100: Rolls Royce Charts a Path for the Next Century

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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 howwe meet those expectations?”. These questions allowed the team to dream of the staggering possibilities for Rolls-Royce’s future.

Rolls-Royce intimately understands its patrons and their likely desires and motivations in the future. It understands that true luxury is deeply personal and that the hallmarks of every Rolls-Royce past and present are key to its future. The designers therefore distilled four key tenets that not only underpin the elegant solution that is the Rolls-Royce VISION NEXT 100, but epitomise the future of luxury mobility as a whole:

The Personal Vision
The Effortless Journey
The Grand Sanctuary
The Grand Arrival

In presenting the Rolls-Royce VISION NEXT 100, the marque has rejected the common notion that the future of personal transport is a utilitarian and functional one. Rolls-Royce has stepped bravely into the future to propose a no-compromise, fully autonomous, coachbuilt, personalised vision to those customers who wish for an emotional attachment to their car. This reasoning led them to the first key tenet: The Personal Vision.

The Personal Vision

The Rolls-Royce VISION NEXT 100, as presented in London on Thursday 16 June 2016, is but one example of a number of possible personal visions of a Rolls-Royce of the future. Indeed, in an evolution of the Rolls-Royce Bespoke experience of today, 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 the most advanced materials and powered by a zero emissions powertrain. 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. The future customer will commission his or her own concept. Rolls‑Royce will design and manufacture this personal vision of each customer and make every Rolls-Royce a unique Bespoke masterpiece.

In short, the Rolls-Royce VISION NEXT 100 utilises envisioned advances in technology to herald the return to authentic coachbuilding.

The Rolls-Royce VISION NEXT 100 is the vision of the Rolls-Royce Motor Cars design team, led by Director of Design Giles Taylor. Their deep understanding of the Rolls-Royce customer of the future and the world in which they will live led them to conceive of a motor car that would serve and augment its patron’s lifestyle in every way.

“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, the Grand Sanctuary and the Grand Arrival. The next three tenets and hallmarks of the Rolls-Royce VISION NEXT 100.

The Effortless Journey

For the 105 years since her creation in 1911, the Spirit of Ecstasy, modelled 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. She has stood as an elegant presence at some of history’s most notable events.

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.



The Grand Sanctuary

“Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance.” Coco Chanel

Already prepared by ‘Eleanor’ for the next journey in their event-filled lives, our owners are met by the Rolls-Royce VISION NEXT 100 which awaits their departure. Entering the Grand Sanctuary, our passengers step in unbowed, with consummate grace and dignity, as with the state carriages of old, taking their place on the best seat in the house. Cocooned in the futuristic but handcrafted lounge atmosphere, the coach door and clamshell canopy glide closed to envelop them in uninterrupted silence and luxury.

As one would expect from a Rolls-Royce, the environment of the Grand Sanctuary is crafted from the most precious and contemporary of materials. What is unexpected is the feeling of lightness and simplicity, an effortless elegance.

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 beautiful 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 ground-breaking work executed on the 2015 Phantom Serenity, the designers used the symbol of ultimate elegance – silk – to clothe the sofa. This most natural and sensual of materials is combined with wool to create a beautifully textured, ivory-coloured luxurious throne upon which our passengers are conveyed, and from which they command.

A final sensual touchpoint within the cabin is the finest one-off deep-pile ivory wool carpet woven especially in London, which our passengers can enjoy as they luxuriate in the ample space created by the removal of the chauffeur.

This sense of space is accentuated as our passengers’ view from their seats is uninterrupted by a cockpit or steering wheel which are now superfluous. From their powerful position within the Rolls-Royce VISION NEXT 100, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players…”.

Should they choose to drop their eyes from that world stage for a moment and ask ‘Eleanor’ for visual cues, she will provide them on the transparent OLED screen that dominates the front wall of the cabin. Here our passengers can view information regarding their journey, their destination and the people they are expecting to meet. Or they may simply choose to retreat from the outside world and be entertained by their favourite show for a while.

Or they may just contemplate the 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.

“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

Certain truths are constant over time. One of these truths is how the powerful have always understood the symbols through which they express their standing. From the lavish chariots of the Roman Emperors to the individually hand built state carriages and cars of Monarchy – such as the coachbuilt Rolls-Royce Phantom IV used during Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation – such fine vehicles have been designed to project the importance of the individual inside to those waiting outside.

Waiting with bated breath for a grand arrival, the crowds were never anything but impressed by the stately arrival of their idol. In the future, Rolls-Royce believes that its powerful patrons will wish to continue projecting their power and status in such a manner.

This truth is reflected in the most dramatic aspect of the Rolls-Royce VISION NEXT 100 – its iconic, imposing and futuristic presence which ensures a Grand Arrival for its occupants. 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.

The very size of the Rolls-Royce VISION NEXT 100 announces the importance of its precious cargo. At 5.9 metres long and 1.6 metres high, it mirrors the perfect 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.

From these timeless icons of Rolls-Royce design flow the graceful, sweeping lines and expressive surfaces that combine to create a completely futuristic vision of a possible Rolls-Royce exterior.

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 bonnet, as a dividing line between upper and lower sections of the car. Not stopping at the extremes of the bonnet, this beautiful metal feature creates a beautiful ‘horseshoe’ as it flows along the top edge of the coach door, describes a parabola up and over the pronounced rear shoulder, 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 whilst allowing them to contemplate the majesty of the stars in the firmament above as they glide through the night; a window on the world ahead before resolving itself into the bonnet of the car.

The lower section is more dramatic in its design and in what it achieves. Draped in a silk-like ‘Crystal Water’ colour scheme, its surfacing achieves a lightness that belies the vehicle’s size. This is automotive ‘Haute Couture’. From whatever angle the Rolls-Royce VISION NEXT 100 is viewed, it seems to float, whether at rest or in motion.

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-bonnet 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 personalised to CS Rolls and FH Royce.

The newly liberated Pantheon grille is now the unencumbered prow of the Rolls-Royce VISION NEXT 100. 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 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.

Seen from the side, the coachwork delivers hallmark Rolls-Royce privacy to the occupants as it rises gracefully like a fine cloak over the shoulders at the rear of the car. However, this fine drapery flatters to deceive as this 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 air flow and reduced air resistance, its unquestioned drama delivers a grand arrival.

Rolls-Royce and the art of the Grand Arrival

In the era of the stately carriage, and even of the early coachbuilt limousine, one was guaranteed an arrival befitting one’s stature. As we have seen, the exterior design and adornment of such conveyances announced one’s importance, as did the luxurious appointment of the interior.

However, one other aspect of such vehicles contributed to their suitability for such occasions: their elevated position, suspended as they were on large wheels. Combined with the high ceiling typical of carriage or limousine, one could normally stand before stepping out in a graceful and dignified manner. Modern aerodynamic considerations meant that even modern limousines’ rooflines had to be lowered, thereby reducing headroom and requiring one to stoop slightly when alighting from one’s vehicle.

Unwilling to accept such stricture and compromise in the future, Giles Taylor and his team set to work to reinstate the Grand Arrival as it should be.

The Grand Arrival of the Rolls-Royce VISION NEXT 100 is first signalled by the Spirit of Ecstasy and Pantheon grille illuminating to cast an ethereal, otherworldly glow from the front of the car. As this vision of the future gracefully sweeps up to its destination, the ethereal glow spreads from the trailing edge of the front wheel arch to the rear of the single coach door, signalling that something momentous is about to happen. As the Rolls-Royce VISION NEXT 100 gracefully comes to a halt, something magnificent occurs.

Hinged on the left of the vehicle, the glass canopy lifts to allow the occupant to stand whilst providing shelter from above and behind. Then, in one effortless movement, the single coach door sweeps open and a step emerges from below the running board. As a final flourish, a red light is projected, carpet-like, from the underside of the step as a welcome.

Thus, as in Botticelli’s ‘The Birth of Venus’, our guest is framed and ready to step gracefully into the limelight and greet their audience.

“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,” comments Taylor. “It is an expression of our intrinsic understanding of the possibilities for a true luxury brand and the desires of its customers.”

The Personal Vision, the Effortless Journey, the Grand Sanctuary and the Grand Arrival. Rolls-Royce’s vision of the next 100 years. Rolls-Royce VISION NEXT 100. A vision of the future of luxury.

Virtual Vision

Rolls-Royce has also harnessed the power of the virtual space to bring the experience of the Vision NEXT 100 closer to those unable to personally see the vehicle in London.

The Vision 360 CGI experience immerses the viewer in a journey from Goodwood, the Home of Rolls-Royce, through to vision of the future of luxury. Viewers can enjoy and explore the fine detail of Rolls-Royce 103EX, guided by the voice of the original Spirit of Ecstasy, Eleanor Thornton, on YouTube 360°.


This article is part of “The Feed”, a special AutoTech.Today section featuring automotive technology news directly from their sources.

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