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Rolls-Royce Takes Flight With Different Kind Of Electric Vehicle

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The ACCEL program looks poised to smash all existing records

The time will surely come when we'll see electric-powered automobiles from Rolls-Royce. But in the meantime, the British firm is working on another kind of electric vehicle – and it aims to be much faster than any road-going Rolls to date.

Called ACCEL, the initiative aims to "accelerat[e] the electrification of flight" with a battery-powered propeller airplane closer in form to a WW2 fighter plane than a modern jet. And it already looks poised to smash not only the record for electric aircraft, but the landmark speed achieved by the Rolls-powered Supermarine S.6B almost a century ago.

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As you might have guessed, the ACCEL project is being undertaken not by the Rolls-Royce Motor Company that we know for its uber-luxurious automobiles, but by the aerospace concern of the same name and of which it was once part.

Building on experience with prototypes like the EVTOL (pictured below), the ACCEL design will pack 6,000 lithium-ion battery cells and three 750-volt supplied by British electric-motor manufacturer YASA to give it upwards of 1,500 horsepower. That's nearly three times as much as the internal-combustion V12s employed in vehicles like the Wraith, Phantom, and Cullinan, resulting in a much higher terminal velocity.

ACCEL aims to surpass the 343 mph achieved by the Supermarine S.6B in the 1931 Schneider Trophy for seaplanes. Assuming the project gets off the ground (so to speak), it also stands to positively shatter the existing record for electric aircraft, set at 210 mph less than two years ago by German giant Siemens.

"This plane will be powered by a state-of-the-art electrical system and the most powerful battery ever built for flight," said project manager Matheu Parr. "In the year ahead, we're going to demonstrate its abilities in demanding test environments before going for gold in 2020 from a landing strip on the Welsh coastline."