When it comes to luxury and extravagance, no brand quite competes with the iconic British automaker Bentley. Known for performance and opulence, Bentley’s lineup touts powerful, luxurious vehicles. But as the world evolves and consumers’ interests change, the brand is doing what it takes to stay relevant. Knowing the luxury segment can’t ignore its environmental impact, Bentley last year announced plans to ditch fossil fuels for a zero-carbon, all-electric lineup.
How will Bentley’s pivot to EVs change the legendary brand best known for decadence?
When Bentley shocked the world
In early November 2020, the brand made an unpredicted and unexpected announcement. According to NBC News, Bentley CEO Adrian Hallmark revealed that “amid an accelerating shift by the global auto industry away from gas and diesel to battery power,” the brand is pivoting to an all-electric future. Hallmark verified that Bentley is fully invested in producing an all-plug-in (hybrid and all-electric) lineup by 2026 and a completely electric lineup by 2030.
The CEO stated firmly that by 2030, the brand would no longer produce combustion engines. This makes Bentley one of the first in the luxury segment to move toward an all-electric future.
Alongside its own research, which found that at least 55 percent of current customers would be interested in buying an electric vehicle, Bentley is taking advantage of its tremendous position. The automaker is backed by parent company Volkswagen, home to one of the industry’s most aggressive battery-car programs. And the manufacturer has already begun working on not just one electric car but an entire family.
The carmaker then and now
Bentley has been famous for high-performance, extraordinary designs since its founding in 1919, according to Robb Report. But one thing the automaker’s luxury vehicles have never been known for is their fuel-efficiency.
Consumers who can afford a $200,000 car have never had to worry about the cost of powering it. And the energy needed to power Bentley’s extravagant vehicles means they can be more fuel-thirsty than most others.
Even models made nearly a century after Bentley’s 3 Litre EXP1 first roared to life still gulp gallons upon gallons of gas. According to FuelEconomy.gov, the official U.S. government source for fuel economy data, four of Bentley’s six 2018 models average an embarrassing 14 mpg city/highway combined. The most fuel-efficient of the bunch, the Flying Spur, packs a 4.0-liter, eight-cylinder motor and automatic transmission. It scored a dismal 16 mpg combined.
But Bentley’s gas guzzlers will soon die with the combustion engine.
The future of an all-electric Bentley
According to Bentley, the journey to electrification began in 2018, when the Bentayga Hybrid SUV debuted. The brand is using the success of the world’s first luxury hybrid and the technology behind the Bentayga to catapult itself into an electric future. And that journey is well underway.
In fact, on the brand’s 100th anniversary, it unveiled the stunning EXP 100 GT concept car. This all-electric concept shows what the brand’s cars could eventually look like, and it’s simply amazing.
The timeline for an all-electric lineup seems aggressive considering Bentley offers only one hybrid option and zero all-electric vehicles. According to Hypebeast, Bentley unveiled its latest Bentayga plug-in hybrid this month. And by mid-year, the “2021 Bentayga PHEV is expected to launch … with a starting price of roughly $183,000.”
The first all-electric model will likely follow in a few years, with the company banking on a 2025 debut. By 2030, the company expects its lineup to comprise only EVs. Although Bentley has yet to release exact plans or designs for the all-electric lineup, the EXP 100 GT concept car offers a glimpse into an exciting future.