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It’s certainly no secret that the automotive industry is slightly different in Europe. Their vehicles are designed differently and come equipped with varying features. Even the rules of the road are diverse, from left-side driving to driver’s license restrictions. So, when a European automaker like Bentley builds a luxury car, there are bound to be some European nuances.

American car buyers may not realize that European licensing requirements are incredibly different from how drivers secure driver’s licenses here in the states. One report states that Bentleys might require specific licenses to operate them overseas. They’re so heavy they fall into a whole new category of guidelines to operate.

How driver’s licenses work in the U.S. versus Europe

A Bentley logo on a black car, that may require a different license in Europe to drive.
Bentley logo | Getty Images

In most countries and municipalities, driver’s licenses are categorized into groups or classifications, like motorcycle licenses, passenger vehicles, and commercial vehicles. Each segment usually abides by specific guidelines for authorization and licensing. But licensing in Europe and Australia is a bit different. 

Europa charts the requirements for how individuals can secure driver’s licenses, and it’s more segmented than you might think. There are separate classes for mopeds, light motorcycles, quadricycles, and standard motorcycles.

There are class B and BE segments for cars, along with category C1 and C1E for “medium-sized vehicles.” And there are special licensing requirements for those vehicles that fall within the “large vehicle” category, still separate from minibusses, buses, or commercial vehicles.

Under these varied classifications, Bentley is testing the boundaries. Because the latest model luxury cars are so heavy, like the Bentayga Extended Wheelbase weighing 5,512 pounds, anyone hoping to drive one might need a special driver’s license to do it. CarBuzz shares some of the latest details for European weight ceilings and how some Bentleys might be hitting those limits.

Bentley’s could require a new license

The Product Line Director for Bentley, Chris Cole, talks about the weight and licensing challenges in Europe. And the Volkswagen Group, the entity that owns Bentley, has been petitioning the government to increase the weight limits already in place for European driver’s licenses. Cole says the “gross vehicle weight will be hitting the [driver’s license] ceiling of all of Europe.” Officials are hopeful that talks with the certification authorities will inspire changes.

But in the meantime, Bentley models might be too heavy for the class it’s intended to occupy. Not all models are in danger of being overweight. But the premium SUV Bentley Bentayga is leading the heavyweight charge. There may be upcoming variations or Bentley models already exceeding the weight limits for traditional consumer driver’s licenses in Europe.

Other Bentley models in the works

Bentley isn’t overly concerned about the current weight of its vehicles. Cole says the Volkswagen Group doesn’t believe the weight limit to be a necessary regulation. Those guidelines were put in place to encourage lighter vehicles and better fuel efficiency measures. But with the mass planning of electric vehicle introductions on the horizon, those reasons might soon be obsolete.

The Volkswagen Group is already showcasing “the next chapter” in Bentley designs with the entirely battery-electric model. The Bentley Flying Spur is an impressive hybrid preparing for complete electrification. Right now, it combines an electric motor with a V6 engine, allowing it to drive 40 km in an all-electric mode. Bentley has also introduced its high-performance hybrid GT Speed and GT Speed Convertible for Continental variations.

Lucky for you, you may not have to worry about whether or not you can drive your Bentley in Europe. But it’s interesting to see how weight restrictions on driver’s licenses can impact automakers’ designs and production. Even the upscale Bentley has to contend with weight limits and driving guidelines.


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