Satellites control new Rolls' gearshifts
GENEVA -- The Rolls-Royce Wraith, a fastback that debuts in the final quarter of this year, will use satellite data that detect changing road conditions to help shift its ZF eight-speed automatic transmission.
The GPS-based system can see the altitude, grade and road curves for several miles ahead. The gearshift patterns are controlled to ensure that the car is in the correct gear and maintains power, CEO Torsten Mueller-Oetvoes said this month at the auto show here.
Information from the navigation system also can be used to optimize the gear changes by predicting the driver's next move.
"For example, the car understands that you may exit the autobahn in 100 meters and for that reason you need to shift down," Mueller-Oetvoes said.
The satellite-aided shifting technology was developed by a Rolls-Royce engineer who had begun developing it while assigned to BMW's Formula One team. Rolls-Royce is the first to get the system, but parent company BMW may use it in future vehicles, Mueller-Oetvoes said.
The Wraith's 6.6-liter V-12 engine generates 624 hp, 61 hp more than Rolls' Ghost sedan. The Wraith shares a platform with the Ghost sedan, but at 5268mm (207.4 inches) long it is 127mm shorter than the Ghost. The 3111.5mm wheelbase is 183mm shorter.
Mueller-Oetvoes: “The car understands.”
The United States will be the Wraith's biggest market, Mueller-Oetvoes said, but he declined to give a sales forecast. The United States usually accounts for 30 percent of the brand's worldwide sales and was Rolls-Royce's largest market in 2012, he said.
Last year, Rolls-Royce said it sold 3,575 vehicles. About 3,000 units were Ghosts; the rest where the top-end Phantom sedan. The Wraith will be the brand's second-biggest seller, he said.
In Europe, the Wraith will be priced at 245,000 euros ($319,000) and will begin deliveries in the final quarter of this year, Rolls-Royce said. In the United States, the car will begin sales in November.
You can reach Diana T. Kurylko at email@example.com. -- Follow Diana on