Bentley is set to release its own battery-electric model in the middle of this decade, CEO Adrian Hallmark told Top Gear on the sidelines of British luxury marque’s show stand that substituted the cancelled Geneva Motor Show for this year.
There is currently a size constraint on what can be a credible battery-powered vehicle. The Jaguar I-Pace is the optimum shape and size today, (and it is) capable of a theoretical 300 miles (500 km),” Hallmark said, noting that the same footprint in an SUV will see the range drop, and a smaller vehicle will accommodate smaller or fewer batteries.
“We don’t want to build small cars, we want to build Bentleys. We build definitive grand tourers so we need to do more than 100 miles (160 km) on a charge. People have got to get used to relying on electric cars, and 300 miles (500 km) will do it,” Hallmark said. The matter comes down to batteries, and Bentley’s CEO was keen to point out the significant costs they impose.
Batteries are six times the price of an engine, Hallmark said, and the engine is 20% the price of a car, which amounts to doubling the cost of the car. “Electric vehicles are expensive today because batteries are expensive. By 2025 or 2026, with the known road map, we’ll be able to build a proper Bentley EV. The right wheelbase, right number of occupants, the right size and shape,” he said.
In the meantime, Bentley has hinted that it is already capable of making a fully electric model, albeit with a short range; that model could be a Mulliner low-volume model, Hallmark suggested. The most recent concept in the EV direction was the EXP 100 GT concept unveiled last July, touted with 700 km of range and 1,500 Nm of torque.
“We’ve been asked if we could ‘build a car exactly like an R-Type Continental that’s also fully electric and I don’t care if it’s got 160 km of range, thank you very much’. The answer is ‘yes we could’. Do we really want to? We haven’t answered that yet,” he said. On the surface at least, it appears the CEO isn’t particularly sentimental about the internal combustion engine going away.
“If I could drive a car that’s looking like an R-Type but which is fully reliable and fully electric, that’s got cachet,” said Hallmark. “I’m not scared of the future in terms of the death of internal combustion. All of the Bentley attributes – refinement, effortless power, speed, comfort – you’ll get in an electric Bentley, you just won’t get the engine noise,” he said, noting that engine noise is something the company has been trying to suppress “for years” anyway.
GALLERY: Bentley EXP 100 GT concept
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