Rolls keeps eye on the sky

Riley Riley

Rolls-Royce has found a tow vehicle for its record-breaking electric plane.

And, not surprisingly, it’s an electric one, but not as it turns out a Roller — it’s a Jag.

The all-electric Jaguar I-Pace has been selected as the tow and support vehicle for the UK-led program that will have a crack later this year at the speed record for electric flight later, with a target of 300+mph (483km/h).

The aircraft has been created under the Accelerating the Electrification of Flight (ACCEL) program that includes key partners, the electric motor and controller manufacturer YASA and aviation start-up Electroflight.

The Spirit of Innovation features an electric motor propulsion system that delivers 373kW+ with the most power-dense battery pack ever assembled for an aircraft, providing enough energy to fuel 250 homes or fly London to Paris on a single charge.

By chance or design, I-Pace has a range of 470km from a single charge which is exactly the distance by road from London to Paris.

The ACCEL project highlights Rolls’ commitment to ensuring new products will be compatible with net zero operation by 2030, and all products will be compatible with net zero by 2050.

Rolls-Royce will be using the technology from ACCEL and other electrification activity to bring a portfolio of electric and hybrid-electric products into the urban air mobility, commuter and more-electric aircraft sectors.

In a similar vein, track experience of the Jaguar Racing Formula E team will help generate real-world improvements in Jaguar’s road-going electric vehicles.

By the middle of the decade, it is planned to transform the company into a purely electric luxury brand with a portfolio of emotionally engaging designs and pioneering next-generation technologies.

Several members of the ACCEL project team have come from Formula E backgrounds.

Despite the challenges of COVID, the ACCEL team has continued to work behind the scenes while it adheres to the UK Government’s social distancing and other health guidelines.

Director of Rolls-Royce Electrical, Rob Watson, said Rolls-Royce and Jaguar Land Rover are UK pioneers focused on advancing electrical technology for their respective sectors.

“We are delighted that Jaguar Land Rover are loaning us I-PACE vehicles as we bid to develop the world’s fastest all-electric plane,” he said.

“It is important to us that the ACCEL program was carbon neutral and this will be supported by having all-electric cars for ground-support.”

The Rolls-Royce Spirit of Innovation team has already completed key ground-testing and taxiing ahead of the first test flights in a matter of months.



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