• Rolls says a plug-in hybrid model is on its way
  • New model needed to address emissions and fuel economy regulations
  • Rolls hasn't announced any major details about its plug-in hybrid

When you think Rolls-Royce, you may not think fuel economy. But that's precisely what the high-end automaker is thinking, as it recently announced plans for an upcoming plug-in hybrid luxury car.

According to Rolls-Royce, the arrival of a plug-in hybrid isn't demanded by its customers but rather by fuel economy and emissions regulations. The brand says such regulations have led to the development of a plug-in hybrid model, which will likely use powertrain components developed by parent company BMW.

While Rolls-Royce hasn't announced many details on its upcoming plug-in hybrid, the automaker has teased green technology before. In 2011, the brand showed off an all-electric Phantom, dubbed the 102EX, which offered charge times and range that were not acceptable for our buyers, according to Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös.

The result was a switch to plug-in hybrid technology, which allows a car to run for a certain amount of time on an electric motor before a range-extending gasoline powerplant kicks in. Other cars using plug-in hybrid technology include the Chevrolet Volt and the Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid. The Fisker Karma also used plug-in hybrid technology before it was removed from the market.

Shoppers interested in a plug-in Rolls shouldn't get too excited at the thought of an all-new model, as it's unlikely the brand will release a vehicle with only a plug-in hybrid drivetrain. Instead, we expect that Rolls-Royce will create its plug-in vehicle by taking an existing model, such as the entry-level Ghost luxury sedan, and adding plug-in hybrid technology.

For those interested in more details, Rolls is likely to have them soon. The automaker says its plug-in model will be on sale in two or three years, meaning we expect to see it sometime during next year's auto-show season.

What it means to you: It's clear that plug-in technology is here to stay when even a high-end luxury brand like Rolls-Royce is getting involved.

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Doug DeMuro has a wide range of automotive industry experience, from work at a Ferrari dealership to a manager for Porsche North America. A lifelong car enthusiast, Doug's eclectic vehicle purchases include a Porsche 911 Turbo, an E63 AMG wagon, an old Range Rover and a Mercedes Benz G-wagen.

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