Rolls-Royce's Future: Star Wars Meets Superfly

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
rolls royces future star wars meets superfly

The thing about really old car companies is that they seem to enjoy taking the gulf of time they’ve been in existence and projecting it into the future.

Rolls-Royce, the 110-year-old purveyor of rolling boutique enclaves for the horses and mahogany set, just looked ahead and saw something…intergalactic?

The Rolls-Royce VISION NEXT 100, unveiled today in London, is being billed as the company’s first “vision vehicle” — a conceptual look at the ultimate luxury car of tomorrow. Actually, make that date a little further in the future, perhaps sometime after the empire strikes back but before the Jedi returns.

Because vehicles aren’t vehicles anymore, the automaker refers to the concept as a mobility provider. It consulted with customers (“patrons,” in Rolls parlance) to identify the luxury elements they couldn’t do without, and the features they’d want to see in the future. Designers then blended them into this somewhat scary but undeniably futuristic concept.

“With the Rolls-Royce VISION NEXT 100 we were mindful not to dwell on the past,” said Giles Taylor, the company’s design director, in a statement. “We wanted to be as innovative as possible and at the same time transcend the design history of the marque.”

While the Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament remains, the concept’s fenders took on the shape of a TIE fighter. Under the hood, the company imagines a propulsion source that isn’t a gasoline-powered V12. In the future, an owner will probably be taxed for even thinking of such a thing.

Inside the concept, Rolls envisions a digitally connected cockpit where all functions are controlled by the “Voice of Eleanor” — an artificial intelligence system that anticipates and responds to your every whim. The name alludes to Eleanor Thornton, the woman on which the hood ornament was modeled in 1911.

All this Skynet-like technology might sound unsettling, but rest assured: there will still be a handcrafted interior and lots of real wood trim in the future. Oh, and an analog clock.

If the name VISION NEXT 100 (the name is screamed, like a partisan tweet) seems familiar, it should. Parent company BMW released a Tron-like concept of the same name back in March.

[Images: Rolls-Royce]

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  • Rockcina21 Rockcina21 on Jun 17, 2016

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  • Testacles Megalos Testacles Megalos on Jun 17, 2016

    Four wheels/tires on the corners, engine up front, passengers caccooned is that futuristic? Same layout as the original Silver Ghost. The Tatra, Tucker, and Dymaxion in their day were futuristic. This thing is a rapper's wet dream of a current iteration car. Get rid of the wheels/tires maybe. Do we really have to have prime movers on all automobiles? Or even battery-fed motors? Who says passengers need to sit amidship? Or even sit for that matter. So many possibilities these guys haven't considered.

  • 28-Cars-Later Staying in the Strip? Downtown? Elsewhere?
  • FreedMike Toyota might not be wrong to continue betting on hydrogen - the science behind extracting it is advancing pretty rapidly. This is an example of the kind of work that's going on (paywalled story, but it's a good one): Opinion | A Gold Mine of Clean Energy May Be Hiding Under Our Feet - The New York Times ( has some major advantages over electricity to run vehicles, mainly a) quick refueling, and b) the distribution process would look a lot like the one for gasoline, in which a truck hauls the fuel to a fueling station and fills up the underground tanks. It's a lot easier, quicker, and cheaper to retrofit gas stations with hydrogen tanks than it is to completely redo the electric grid and establish hundreds of thousands - even millions - of charging points. If the extraction tech works, then I'd say hydrogen is actually a superior fuel for cars to electricity.
  • GrumpyOldMan No/almost no rust, yet all the floors have been replaced? Hmmmm.....
  • Wjtinfwb Great looking Supra, one of my all time favorites that "got away". In this era, I was driving a 280ZX which I really liked, but was more of a boulevardier than a sporting car. I looked at these Supra's from the '82 introduction but couldn't quite swing the price. Plus, I was sure the next Datsun Z would hit it out of the park. '84 came and Nissan gave us the disco 300ZX, which i disliked intensely. Supra's we're getting harder to find and more expensive as this generation wound down. Then, the howl of a small block Ford with a 4 barrel Holley caught my ear and I was sold. An '85 Mustang GT took the place a Supra should have occupied and that was it. The next gen Supra was, much like the 300ZX, more of a cruiser than the previous generation and more expensive. Several Mustang's and VR6 GTi's later I'm now back to looking for a Supra only to find out they're more expensive after almost 40 years than they were when new!
  • Kwik_Shift Knobs, buttons and even sliders would be good.