Mention of the Rolls-Royce name usually conjures an image of a super-luxury vehicle, a rolling palace the ostentatiousness of which is as impressive as it is unnecessary.
But that might be forgetting that the English company, which owes its name to two pioneers, Charles Rolls and Henry Royce, was initially an engineering firm, and one that later contributed mightily to advances in aviation with its highly regarded engines.
Yes, it became known to the general public via its luxury cars, but Rolls-Royce has always had other fields of activity.
Which brings us to the vehicle shown here. The Rolls-Royce Haul Truck Concept is an eye-opener, because this monster, of the sort normally used in mining operations, is equipped with a hybrid system that aims to reduce C02 emissions by 20-to-30 percent.
The study combines less-powerful diesel engines from MTU (the engine manufacturer) with batteries. The performance remains similar, but consumption is reduced. This is made possible in part to the very configuration of most mines. When a hybrid truck descends on a ‘road’ to the bottom of a mine, it can recover a lot of battery power, storing up charge as it goes. This energy can then be used on the way back up.
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This concept is in line with the philosophy of BMW (owner of Rolls-Royce), which has just presented an innovative design study, the i Vision Circular, conceived as to be an entirely recyclable car. The company has of course made much of its desire to eliminate its carbon footprint. Rolls' concept is the first step toward achieving that ambitious goal, especially as the need for rare metals continues to grow as the electric-vehicle market ramps up.
MTU and Rolls-Royce are investing heavily in various energy sources as the company works to implement its vision of zero-carbon mining. The goal of eliminating carbon emissions can take many forms, and electric vehicles will not be the solution for all applications. Hydrogen is an option that many manufacturers continue to develop, and each type of new energy source will help reduce emissions.
We don't often think of Rolls-Royce as a commercial automaker, but the company has broad interests, and its new green concept reflects the range of its extensive operations.