Rolls-Royce has revealed its smallest car yet, and the company's first electric vehicle (EV). But instead of being a city-centre friendly luxury EV, the firm has created a one-off car for children to drive along hospital corridors while they await surgery.
The bespoke car, complete with the signature Rolls-Royce chrome grille and Spirit of Ecstasy bonnet ornament, was built for the pediatric day surgery unit at St Richard's Hospital in the company's hometown of Chichester, West Sussex.
The Rolls-Royce SRH will allow children to drive themselves to the operating theatre, through corridors lined with special traffic signs to guide them. The option to drive themselves to theatre is aimed to reduce stress among the hospital's youngest patients.
Two children were invited to the Rolls-Royce production line at Goodwood to witness the unveiling of the car in the company's studio, before driving it along the production line, an act usually reserved for the chief executive when signing off new vehicles.
The company says the electric car's luxury interior is "appointed with the same finesse and attention-to-detail afforded to every Rolls-Royce patron". The car features a two-tonne steering wheel, leather seats, 3D-printed components and the same self-righting wheel centres as used by the company's full-size cars.
The Rolls-Royce SRH, which took more than 400 man-hours to build, has a top speed of 10mph but can be limited to 4mph depending on the age and proficiency of the driver. The car will be officially handed over to the hospital on 1 March.
Marianne Griffiths, chief executive of the West Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, described the car as "simply priceless", adding: "It is a very special gift and one of the most wonderful donations ever received by Love Your Hospital, our trust's dedicated charity."
Sue Nicholls, paediatric matron at the Trust, said: "It's wonderful seeing a smiley face on the way to theatres, rather than an apprehensive one, and everyone caring for children at St Richard's is so grateful to Rolls-Royce for this unique donation... in the coming years it will help turn a daunting experience into a more fun and enjoyable one for hundreds and hundreds of children."