back to article The literal Rolls-Royce of EVs is recalled over fire risk

Mere months after launch, Rolls-Royce's Spectre EV is being recalled due to a faulty ground connection cable that could make the vehicle very hot stuff. The Spectre is the British marque's first electric vehicle, and the ultra-luxury automaker looks to have hit a problem common to any manufacturer looking to enter a new field …

  1. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

    Oopsie.

  2. Bendacious

    400 volts through the chassis

    It never occurred to me that electric vehicles would continue to use the chassis as ground, just like my petrol car does with its puny 12 volts. I’m sure this will be fine in a few years with old EV cars with rusty chassis and stripped wire insulation. No doubt clever people have added safety features. I wonder how the average mechanic will approach an aging EV that might be putting 400 volts through bare metal - carefully I expect. I’m no expert on circuits so I’m probably missing something obvious but I am slightly worried. Maybe when I have to go EV I won’t run 10-year-old cars any more.

    1. cyberdemon Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: 400 volts through the chassis

      I'd be very surprised if they did normally put traction currents through the chassis too.

      If this is a connection between the "front electric motor" and the chassis as reported then it makes even less sense, since the motors are three-phase (but maybe they have integrated drive electronics in the unit).

      Still fishy though.

      Maybe they are using the same smart torque wrenches as Boeing, for their wiring lugs.

      (FTR I am not saying that Boeing or Rolls Royce torque wrenches were hacked, only that the recent news of the existence of security flaws in a smart spanner is amusing)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 400 volts through the chassis

        The electric motors will very probably be 3 phase permanent magnet motors; which don't pass current down the earth wire. (They are very unlikely to be single phase AC, and definitely won't be DC motors.) The earth connection will be attached to the motor housing in case of a fault; it won't be used to carry current under normal circumstances.

        1. Bendacious

          Re: 400 volts through the chassis

          You sound like you know a lot more than me about this. Your reply doesn't really tally with this article though. A cable connecting the motor to the chassis is carrying enough current to set fire to adhesive. If that happens then it can cause a short-circuit, implying that this is the normal flow of current. This article strongly implies that this cable is not only used in the case of a fault. I should probably do some more research.

          1. cyberdemon Silver badge

            Re: 400 volts through the chassis

            EV "motors" usually have integrated drive electronics, so the "connection to the motor" actually means the 400V DC +/- supply wires from the main battery, not the three-phase AC. I'd be very surprised if the return current normally goes through the chassis, although some of it might. Especially if one of the lugs was loose or had a stray piece of heatshrink / grease applied.

            1. balrog
              Stop

              Re: 400 volts through the chassis

              I think most EVs still have a 12v system, complete with canbus and maybe even a 12v lead acid battery, so that all the accessory items are off the peg bits from bosch! The high voltage DC supply will be separate with a positive and a neutral as this can not run in the same place as the 12v.. A three phase motor doesn't need a neutral, with three phase 'neutral' is the same as all phases connected (draw the phase diagram, add the amplitudes and watch them sum to zero, noodle fried yet?). So I can not see where either of the high voltages would be connected to the chassis but there is plenty of power in the 12v to start a fire.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 400 volts through the chassis

      "I wonder how the average mechanic will approach an aging EV"

      Same as the pit crew do in F1?

      ttps://www.cablejoints.co.uk/blog/article/kers-insulating-gloves-blog

      1. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

        Re: 400 volts through the chassis

        Actually the correct answer is how firey's approach old EV, in super thick special hazmat chemical suits .

    3. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: 400 volts through the chassis

      Mate, this bird wouldn't "voom" if you put four hundred...

      Sorry, wrong window.

    4. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

      Re: 400 volts through the chassis

      Of course its perfectly safe, especially when a battery ssomehow shorts and the body gets electrified, and someone is inside.

  3. Winkypop Silver badge
    Alert

    Yikes

    The spirit of electricity

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Yikes

      The spirit of electricity

      That'll be the Chernobyl Apple Vodka that's waiting in my cupboard for 1st February..

      (Yes, I am doing Dry January. And all those people that said I couldn't do it seriously underestimated my stubborness..).

      1. Eclectic Man Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Yikes - Aside Dry January

        One of my friends said he was doing a 'water only' January (where he will only drink pure water, not even black tea), and 'invited me' to join him in his endeavour. I'e not heard form him since, but I am still drinking my tea (black) and de-caff cappuccino's.

        I hope your dry January went well, and that you don't have too much of relapse in 'Freedom February'.

  4. that one in the corner Silver badge

    The marque that sparks

    This isn't just any EV...

  5. SuperGeek

    Glue?

    Why is glue being used on ground lugs? Surely they should be a metal to metal crimp?

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: Glue?

      The lug is crimped to the cable. I assume the glue is on the lug itself, where it bolts to the chassis.

      I'll bet a good dinner it's actually some parts tracking sticker still on it, and not just glue. Or protection label that was supposed to be peeled off.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Glue?

      The glue is almost certainly mechanical locking for the nut clamping the connector. indicating that someone put the glue on at the wrong step in the assembly process.

      1. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: Glue?

        Or added too much and it's squeezed out somewhere it shouldn't be

        1. MiguelC Silver badge

          Re: Glue?

          having that many cars recalled and a specific time-frame might indicate an error in the order of the assembly process's steps

    3. Mike 137 Silver badge

      Re: Glue?

      ""The ground connection cable between the front electric motor and the vehicle chassis may contain adhesive residue on the cable connector eyelet at the end of the cable which attaches to the electric motor"

      Terminals crimped to stranded wires for use in harsh environments commonly use adhesive lined heat shrink sleeves over the crimp to protect against damp entering the crimp and being drawn into the connection by capillary attraction, as it is only 'gas tight' where the outside strands and the terminal body are actually in intimate contact. If the terminal is above what it connects to and it heats up excessively in service, it's possible for the thermal adhesive in the sleeve to migrate downwards, potentially contaminating the terminal's eyelet connection to what it bolts on to.

      Alternatively of course, the problem might just be down to sloppy inspection after the heat shrink sleeve was installed on the terminal crimp.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I saw a Rolls-Royce on fire once

    I was in a bus going up Sepulveda Boulevard in Los Angeles. The bus driver stopped, got out his fire extinguisher, put the fire out and then continued driving the bus.

  7. simonlb Silver badge
    Trollface

    "It should be pretty quick"

    All that needs to happen is for the bolt to be removed, cleaned of excess adhesive and reattached, so it should be pretty quick.

    This is probably ignoring the fact that there is almost certainly a ton of stuff in the way which requires half of the front end to be removed just to get to the bolt and takes a total of 18 hours to do. I've seen how modern cars are assembled.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: "It should be pretty quick"

      "This is probably ignoring the fact that there is almost certainly a ton of stuff in the way which requires half of the front end to be removed just to get to the bolt and takes a total of 18 hours to do."

      The first 16 hours are spent trying to find where to insert the spudger and pry to get the cosmetic cover off that hides the bolts you need to remove, to remove the part that allows you to get to the bolt you need to remove and inspect. What is this unholy fascination of making sure nary a single fastener is seen on a product? When I make something, I feature the screws and bolts! No safety Torx in my house!

      1. Martin an gof Silver badge

        Re: "It should be pretty quick"

        I've often wondered that about the original projector fit at the museum. Fetish for hiding projectors which meant that many of them were hidden above ceilings, aimed at awkward angles to their screens, requiring vast amounts of keystone correction and awkward to get at for maintenance (those had 1,000hr lamps so 2½ lamp changes a year). Not a huge problem if it's just SD video, but really doesn't do justice to computer output. When replacing them I managed to get better angles by not hiding the projectors and buying units which had more lens adjustment. I quite like the projectors being on show :-)

        M.

  8. A.A.Hamilton

    Required edits:

    2 amendments if I may: 'British marque's' -> 'German marque's' & 'manufactured ... at the assembly plant ... in the UK' -> 'manufactured in Germany, final assembly in the UK'.

    1. Khaptain Silver badge

      Re: Required edits:

      Slightly pedantic but correct nonetheless.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Required edits:

        "Slightly pedantic but correct nonetheless."

        Not to the pedants who are still horrified by the misuse of *so* many unnecessary apostrophes in the earlier posting.

    2. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      Re: Required edits:

      'British marque's' -> 'German marque's'

      Indeed...does the "the Rolls Royce of [x]" really mean what it meant years ago? Now that it's "the super-luxury arm of BMW of [x]" is the quality really the same?

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: Required edits:

        Oh yes. BMWs are allowed to break down. Rolls Royces merely occasionally fail to proceed.

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Required edits:

          Rolls Royces merely occasionally fail to proceed.

          [Queue tale of snapped half-shaft that clearly Never Happened (officially anyway)]

      2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Required edits:

        "the super-luxury arm of BMW of [x]" is the quality really the same?

        Judging by the loss of the famed BMW build quality, probably no.

        1. Mike 137 Silver badge

          Re: Required edits:

          "is the quality really the same?"

          In the high days of Rolls Royce quality, all they built was the engine, transmission and chassis. All the rest (including the ancillary electrics) was done by independent coach builders. An acquaintance once ran a 1934 Phantom II. When he contacted RR in the mid-1960s about some maintenance, he was told that "they couldn't work to those high standards any more"

          1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

            Re: Required edits: Aside - Tales of Rolls Royces

            In his book 'The Seven Pillars of Wisdom', T E Lawrence praised the Rolls Royce tenders, which he turned into armoured and armed cars, as being very robust. The current Dalai Lama, on being shown a photograph of the Potala Palace remarked that on one particular slope his Rolls Royce would always stall as the gradient was too steep.

      3. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Required edits:

        Rolls Royce

        Made by the BMW arm of BMW.

        British Motor Works

        of

        Bavarian Motor Works.

    3. that one in the corner Silver badge

      Re: Required edits:

      > British marque's' -> 'German marque's

      Cough.

      British brand's' -> 'German brands's

      As neither of those are France.

      1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

        Using French words in English

        Quelle horreur!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Using French words in English

          C'est la vie nowadays.

    4. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Required edits:

      "2 amendments if I may: 'British marque's' -> 'German marque's' & 'manufactured ... at the assembly plant ... in the UK' -> 'manufactured in Germany, final assembly in the UK'."

      You left out who the distributor is. In the US, what laughingly gets called "government" wants to require people selling things on eBay, Amazon, etc to state the country of origin of the thing. Like I have any clue where it came from when I've bought it at an estate or jumble sale. I was looking at a box of Cheerios yesterday morning and IT didn't state where the cereal was made, only that it was distributed by General Mills. Since the packaging was in English and Mexican, I expect the cereal could have been made in Mexico and imported. Not that I'd find that information in the box.

      1. Martin an gof Silver badge

        Re: Required edits:

        Although the rules aren't perfect, country of origin and location of last major process rules in the EU and UK do mandate this sort of information on most (all?) goods and foods. It's printed on the label and/or the box, which might not be much use if you are buying something online I suppose. Not sure what the rules are there. Other countries have similar rules, is that not the case in the US?

        M.

  9. Jan 0 Silver badge

    I'm very disappointed!

    Why isn't the asking price in guineas?

    1. Khaptain Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: I'm very disappointed!

      Lol, I read that as Guiness.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: I'm very disappointed!

        Only in Ireland! I think O'Rafferty's Motor Car was worth a couple of pints of Guinness. Or used it as fuel, I forget which :-)

    2. Sceptic Tank Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      Re: I'm very disappointed!

      Who cares? If you have to ask you cannot afford it.

      1. Ivan Headache

        Re: I'm very disappointed!

        Lady goes into a Mercedes dealership and is looking at an AMG GT coupe

        As she bends down to look at the interior she lets out a very loud fart.

        As she stands up she asks the salesperson how much the car costs.

        The salesperson replies.

        "If you break wind just looking, you're going to shit yourself when I tell you the price."

        1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

          Re: I'm very disappointed!

          True story.

          I was visiting various RAF bases for work. This was at the time when teh IRA was putting bombs under people's cars, so at every site I would park the car and a guard would look underneath with a mirror on wheels.

          At one site, after a 200 mile trip, the guard rolled his mirror under my car and said "Ahh".

          I nearly fainted. "Have you found something?" I managed to squeak out, rather weakly.

          "No Sir, I've just farted."

          I was too relieved to berate him.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Genuinely curious - do they sound like a milk float like most of the EVs that have whizzed past me?

    1. WonkoTheSane
      Headmaster

      It used to be said that if the loudest sound you could hear in a Rolls-Royce was the ticking of the clock, it was time to visit a Horologist.

  11. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

    loudest sound you could hear in a Rolls-Royce was the ticking of the clock

    Wifes great-grandfather owned a car garage down in Cornwall a geological era ago (and had the first taxi-company in his part of the world - then managed to gamble away all the money he made!). We have, on the chest of drawers in our bedroom, a 1920s car clock, mounted in a hand-made mahogany mount with a careful cutout at the bottom to allow the winder/adjuster to work.

    And, at the top, a patch of lighter wood where the varnish has been worn off by years of thumb prints because that's where your thumb goes when you hold it to wind it up.

    Apparently, that's one of the two things she'd grab if the house was on fire (the other is a painting her great-uncle did of his brother mending fishing nets in Canada ca. 1930). Nice i'm out-prioritised by a lump of wood and metal :-)

    1. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

      but you got legs its prolly expected they would help you out by themselves, whilst an 0ld clock can never run out from a draw.

  12. SammyB

    Just one question to potential buyers, Why?

    Just one question to potential buyers, Why?

    1. Bill Neal

      Re: Just one question to potential buyers, Why?

      Ask "mattress mogul" Michael Fux. That's one helluva nominative determinism

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What, did they revive Lucas to build it?

    Seriously, who buys a BRITISH electric car?

    It's not a nation known for doing a good job with electricity in general, and electricity in cars in particular.

    1. Martin an gof Silver badge

      Re: What, did they revive Lucas to build it?

      Lucas, Prince of Darkness. Sorry I just have to pass this on!

      M.

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