Bentley will launch its first electric model in 2025 and will switch to a fully electric vehicle line-up in 2030 as part of a bold new business strategy with the goal of becoming a “global leader in sustainable luxury mobility”.
The British firm, owned by the Volkswagen Group, has committed to phasing out production of combustion-engined vehicles within a decade as a key part of its new Beyond100 plan.
As part of this plan, Bentley will ramp up its push to electrification, and it has committed to reducing the environmental impact of its Crewe factory by 75% from 2010 levels within five years.
Bentley boss Adrian Hallmark said: “Since 1919, Bentley has defined luxury grand touring. Being at the forefront of progress is part of our DNA; the original Bentley boys were pioneers and leaders. Now, as we look Beyond100, we will continue to lead by reinventing the company and becoming the world’s benchmark luxury car business.”
Speaking about the commitment to switch to a fully electric line-up by 2030, Hallmark added: “This is profound change for the industry, and we want to lead that change. We’re not frightened by it, we’re inspired by it. The most important thing is not to just make electric cars: we’ve got to make Bentleys. We’ve got to take 100 years of Bentley DNA and put it in a modern context.”
Bentley range to be fully electric by 2030
Bentley will launch two new plug-in hybrids in 2021, joining the existing Bentayga Hybrid, as part of a previous commitment to offer a PHEV version of every model by 2023. While unconfirmed, one of the models due in 2021 is set to be a Flying Spur PHEV, which has previously been spied testing and will use the powertrain featured in sister firm Porsche’s Panamera 4 E-Hybrid.
Bentley has committed to offering only plug-in hybrid or fully electric models by 2026, and it will then phase out its hybrid offerings by 2030 to become a fully electric firm. That date matches the earliest date the UK government has targeted to ban the sale of new combustion-engined cars.
As previously reported, Autocar understands that the firm’s first EV in 2025 will be a high-riding saloon that, similar to the Jaguar I-Pace, will sit somewhere between an SUV and a traditional car. Technical details aren’t yet forthcoming, but during the Beyond100 presentation event Mattias Rabe, Bentley’s engineering boss, said it would be built on a “totally new platform”. That is likely to be a version of an electric-only architecture developed by sister firms Porsche and Audi.
The firm previewed its electric future with last year’s EXP 100 GT concept car, which featured four electric motors to offer between 800bhp and 1340bhp, depending on spec, with more than 1100lb ft of torque and a 2.5sec 0-62mph time.
Bentley claimed a weight of 1900kg and a range of around 435 miles, although both figures were based on admittedly optimistic developments in battery technology. Bentley says that the 2025 EV will be its first ‘cradle-to-grave’ carbon-neutral model.
While Bentley has yet to confirm how many electric cars it has planned beyond the initial model, Rabe confirmed that the firm was “working on a whole family of electric vehicles”.
Alongside the switch from combustion engines to electric motors, the Beyond100 plan also includes a ‘transformation programme’ designed to make Bentley a fully carbon-neutral organisation. The firm has already made its Crewe base the UK’s only carbon-neutral car factory, and it’s now targeting further measures to reduce the environmental impact of its operational environment, its major parts suppliers and its retailers.
By the end of this year, Bentley will require all suppliers to have a sustainability audit, and by 2025 it will make its factory plastic-neutral and ‘climate-positive’ as part of a package of measures to further reduce its environmental impact.
The focus on improving the firm’s sustainability has been accompanied by a major restructuring of the business. Bentley previously announced that it was aiming to cut 1000 jobs through a voluntary redundancy programme, although this was reduced to 800 staff, including 200 contractors. Bentley says the success of the voluntary scheme means that fewer than 10 staff remain at risk of compulsory redundancy.
Bentley says the measures means that it’s on track to achieve a positive financial performance this year, despite the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Focus on developing skills, improving diversity
Bentley has also launched a programme to develop the new skills and “greater diversity of talent” that it says will be needed to produce future models in the electrified era. That includes investing in two new research-and-development buildings, a vehicle testing centre and a launch quality centre at its Crewe base and building closer ties with schools and colleges in the local area.
It has also committed to attracting more diverse candidates for future job opportunities and is aiming for 30% of its management staff to be “truly diverse”, up from less than 20% at present.
Bentley has also restructured its Mulliner bespoke division, built around three portfolios: Classic, Collections and Coachbuilt.