London - Brace yourself for an all-electric Bentley. Bosses at the luxury British car company believe electric power will provide just the spark to drive its cars full pelt through the 21st century.
First will be the electric Bentayga 4x4 hybrid, which has just been launched as a powerful petrol model with 608 ‘First Editions’ — the number chosen because it represents the horsepower of its vast six-litre W12 engine — rolling off the production line in Crewe. That will rise to 3600 in the first year, then 5600.
Then there’s the ‘baby’ two-seater 320km/h sports car, codenamed EXP 10, which was shown as a prototype at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year and is seen as a rival to Aston Martin. This will be Bentley’s first all-electric car, subject to a final boardroom green light.
Bentley’s sales and marketing boss Kevin Rose said: “We all like the idea. The customers all like the idea.”
Mr Rose, who has worked in the Wolfsburg headquarters of Bentley’s tarnished German parent company Volkswagen and before that ran VW subsidiary Audi in Britain, believes electric power to be a perfect fit for Bentley.
He said: “There are things in terms of an electric car that are very Bentley. It’s very quiet. It provides lots of torque. And it’s fast. Electric is very Bentley.”
One key challenge is to create a ‘green’ emissions-free vehicle which can cover at least 500 km, seen as the tipping point range to get the rich to swap their cash for plug-in power. But owners want horsepower as well as ‘green’ power.
The all-electric sports car based on the EXP 10 is likely to cost about £130 000 (R3 million).