Ultra-luxury automaker Rolls-Royce debuted its self-driving concept car last week, called the 103EX, and it looks, well, odd. It’s nearly 20 feet long and 5 feet tall, and has some – interesting – features. The futuristic-looking vehicle seats two passengers on a silk-covered sofa in the car’s “Grand Sanctuary,” or interior cabin. Instead of a steering wheel, you get a see-through glass display screen. The engine is at the rear of the car, and there are luggage compartments just behind the front wheels. And about those wheels. The company did not provide an engineering reason why it decided to cover them in such a distinctive way. It did say that the design makes the car look “elevated,” to ensure its passengers have a “Grand Arrival.”
The car has gotten mixed reviews. It has some truly intuitive and innovative features, like the display screen and an artificial intelligence named “Eleanor” that can act as a personal assistant. But it also looks like that. One reviewer called the car “butt-ugly.” Another called it “sublimely crazy.” Rolls-Royce’s auto division, owned by BMW, has always been out there, trying to push the envelope on luxury and style. Certainly the 103EX does both. It clearly courts buyers who want to be noticed. Will people buy it? We’ll have to wait a long time to see. The company says the model could hit the road in the 2040s.
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