The company aims to introduce its first electric vehicle within the next 10 years, but will phase out its existing engines over several decades.
Car makers all over the world are working on electric vehicles to meet ever-tightening emissions regulations, particularly in Europe and China.
For Rolls-Royce, the push towards battery power is driven more by “legal requirements in the markets worldwide” than environmental concerns, Müller-Ötvös said. “These cars aren’t used extensively, nobody is driving long, long distances and so the mileage on a Rolls-Royce is lower than the average car would carry.
“But electrification is the future, full stop. You need to prepare yourself for that.”
Rolls-Royce, which is owned by BMW, has previously shown a design for a 2040s car that was fully electric and autonomously driven.
“Electrification actually fits extremely well with Rolls-Royce because it’s silent, it’s powerful, it’s torquey — so in that sense it is a very good fit,” he said.
While the transition from petrol and diesel-driven cars to battery vehicles is expected to take decades, several governments have set timelines for when they want older vehicles without electric power to be phased out.
The UK government will ban the sale of nonelectric cars by 2040, as well as some hybrid cars. France will also ban all nonelectric cars by then and Germany has indicated it would be open to similar moves.
China wants to have a fifth of its new cars powered electrically by 2025 and will require companies operating in the market to sell a proportion of electric vehicles.
Müller-Ötvös was speaking as Rolls-Royce unveiled its first sports utility vehicle, the Cullinan, named after the largest diamond ever discovered. He added that the vehicle launch was a “seminal moment” for the brand which would also increase its appeal among female drivers.
© 2018 The Financial Times