Bentley "in a rush" to build an EV
The technology isn't ready, though.
Bentley is preparing to release the Bentayga Hybrid, its first electrified model. It recently announced all of its nameplates will offer an electrified powertrain option in the coming years, but what it really wants is to develop a standalone electric car.
"Let me be clear: I am in a rush to build an electric Bentley. As a brand, we should be at the forefront, and it is clear that there is absolute demand from certain customers for it -- including a new target group of customers who want it, not just to comply with regulations, but because it is desirable to them," said Bentley CEO Adrian Hallmark in an interview with British magazine Autocar.
Building an electric Bentley is easier said than done; the firm can't borrow parent company Volkswagen's MEB architecture and make something on it. Hallmark explained that, even as 2020 approaches, the technology that would allow his engineering department to credibly make an electric Bentley doesn't exist yet. He wants at least 400 miles of range, and he can't venture into Bugatti territory.
"Today, with the technology available, it would be like buying a battery that could only power a light bulb to half its capacity. A battery that was the right size to fit a Bentley wouldn't give the range required, a battery that gave the range required would make the car too heavy, and so on. The equation doesn't work whichever way you flex it," he explained.
He's confident technology will improve around the middle of the 2020s. 800-volt charging -- which sister company Porsche will introduce in the Taycan -- will be a game-changer, as will upcoming advancements in battery technology. While solid state batteries are promising, too, the chemistry is at least 10 years away from being an acceptable alternative to lithium-ion.
Note: 2017 Bentley EXP Speed 6e concept pictured. Photo by Ronan Glon.