[dropcap size=small]Y[/dropcap]ou could say X marks the spot when it comes to the pure electric luxury SUV. After all, it was the Tesla Model X – the first such production model – that sparked the electric SUV charge by upscale carmakers.
Since the falcon-winged wonder from Silicon Valley debuted noiselessly three years ago, traditional premium manufacturers have been scrambling to catch up by launching their own e-SUV models. High cost and a small market had put the brakes on development, and, if you think about it, the electric sport-utility vehicle itself is an unusual concept.
True, it should follow the general trend of vehicle electrification, but electrification makes an already pricey luxury SUV with an internal combustion engine even more expensive.
Then there’s the problem of a charging network and range anxiety. If an SUV were used for the original purpose that it was intended, that is, to go off-road, what would happen if it ran out of juice in the middle of nowhere?
But, since large luxo-barge SUVs rarely encounter mud and gravel, that’s not a problem. Instead, as the status symbol it is meant to be, the e-SUV would make a strong green statement by not being a pollutive gas-guzzler. This carbon-friendly image is good not only for buyers but also for regulations; with SUV models making up about a third of a brand’s production, electrification will achieve the goal of meeting worldwide emission standards.
That’s why well-heeled customers all over the world can look forward to these all-electric models coming to a showroom near you.
(RELATED: Review: Is the Jaguar I-Pace the best electric car you can buy in Singapore?)
Not all luxury carmakers are driving down electric avenue.
Two ultra-luxury marques think electric vehicles are a great idea but they’re not buying it just yet.
Rolls-Royce proclaims electrification as the perfect fit for the iconic brand with the Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament because it is silent, powerful and torquey. And it makes business sense because of upcoming emission regulations in Europe which mandate the transition to electric vehicles.
Actually, Rolls-Royce has designed a battery-driven self-driving concept car for the 2040s, but don’t expect the super-luxury Cullinan SUV to be trading in its huge V12 engine any time soon. For Rolls-Royce, the 6.75-litre motor will be available for as long as it is legally allowed. The marque says that these large luxury limos are not used often enough to impact the environment anyway.
Across the English Channel, Lamborghini also likes the idea of an electric Urus. The Italian super sports car maker’s first SUV will also be its first hybrid when that arrives in end-2019. The plug-in Urus will have 680hp and 850Nm – even more than the “regular’’ Urus.
But a pure electric variant is unlikely to make it to the showroom. Why? Because a battery pack doesn’t gel with the fighting bull’s performance or emotional quotients. One prerequisite for an electric Lamborghini supercar is that it must hit 300kmh for three full laps at the Nurburgring race track, or at least 60km.
It must also make the right noises and an electric motor doesn’t quite cut it, in terms of the vibration and sound required to make driving a high-performance automobile an exciting experience. So, while electrification is the future, for some brands, it remains in the very distant future.