Sunday, March 3, 2024

If Christopher Walken’s Super Bowl Commercial Can’t Convince You to Switch to an EV, Maybe Jason Momoa’s Rolls Royce Will

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Could Sunday’s Super Bowl LVIII between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs be the tipping point for those on the fence about buying an electric vehicle? Christopher Walken’s BMW commercial could do the trick. So could Jason Momoa’s electric Rolls Royce.

Believe it or not, there are other things happening at Sunday’s Super Bowl LVIII besides Taylor Swift’s boyfriend. As in years past, much of the buzz will come by way of the ads airing in between Swiftie spotting. We’ve already caught a few of the standouts — including the much-hyped BMW commercial featuring actor Christopher Walken. The spot sees a slew of Walken stans deliver their best impersonations of the 80-year-old Dune star. It’s sure to be one of the highlights for Super Bowl commercial lovers and fans of the actor, but can it move the needle on EVs?

Electric vehicles have historically pushed hard during the year’s biggest sporting event, but car commercials slowed in recent Super Bowl years (there were just eight last year). So far, it looks like there will only be four during this year’s event. The likely culprit for previous declines was the widespread inventory shortage. But many car companies are now looking at more targeted efforts ala niche marketing on the socials rather than throwing down $7 million for a 30-second spot. And, let’s face it, when folks are staying glued to their screens for the I-saw-Taylor-first drinking games, it may require them to make use of the time for more traditional commercial break type of activities.

So, if Walken doesn’t do it, what about … Aquaman? While Jason Momoa doesn’t have a car commercial airing on Sunday (that we know of yet), he did just break the Internet with his 1929 Phantom II Rolls Royce, which is now an EV thanks to a partnership with U.K.-based Electrogenic, known for turning classic cars into EVs.

Jason Momoa's 1929 Rolls Royce
Jason Momoa’s 1929 Rolls Royce EV | Courtesy Max

“In order to pull off this dream project, I had to find the right partner,” Momoa said in a statement. “I needed a team that would appreciate the storied history of this car while updating its technology.” The Game of Thrones star says Electrogenic is “all about honoring vintage cars, “making them electric without losing any of the vehicle’s character.”

Despite Electrogenic’s experience with converting classic cars, director Steve Drummond said this conversion was by far the most challenging and took 18 months to complete. But it was a success, and the nearly 100-year-old vehicle has retained its original coachwork by H. J. Mulliner & Co. You can see the conversion detailed in Momoa’s new Max show, On the Roam, which sees the star spend time with a range of car restorers as well as athletes, musicians, and other creatives.

Robb Report’s Rachel Cormack explains the build:

“The Rolls was originally powered by a giant 7.7-liter pushrod straight-six engine that was bolted directly to a four-speed manual gearbox. Churning out between 40 and 50 horses, the car could reportedly reach well over 80 mph in its heyday. The mill and gearbox were removed and replaced with 93 kWh of batteries, which have been integrated into the existing architecture. (No modifications were made to the car’s original structure.)

Rolls Royce Phantom plug-in.
Rolls Royce Phantom plug-in. | Courtesy Max

“The electric motor, which sits neatly between the chassis rails, receives power from the batteries via a custom single-speed direct drive transmission. Approximately 150 kW of grunt and 229 ft lbs of torque is channeled to a fixed reduction gear, which in turn delivers about 734 of twist to the prop shaft. The systems are all managed by custom software developed by Electrogenic.”

The retrofit also included an update to the original brake system, controls, and gauges, as well as a new speaker system. Drummond says all totaled, it’s a Phantom that performs “as Rolls-Royce’s engineers of a century ago would have wanted had they possessed the technology available to us today.”

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