Bentley Dropped the Ball When It Came to Electrification, Autonomy, and Connected Vehicles
A little late to the game, the Brits are gearing up for a full battery-powered assault by 2025by Jonathan Lopez, on
The auto industry is changing at a very rapid pace, what with all the crazy new technology we see popping up to make cars more comfortable, more convenient, and more fuel efficient. Unfortunately, some automakers are a bit slow on the uptake, especially high-end luxury marques like Bentley. As such, Bentley’s new boss is ramping up the company’s tech efforts in a big way.
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The Bentayga hybrid is a solid initial effort, but Adrian Hallmark says Bentley needs to ramp up its EV effort even further.
Bentley just revealed its new Bentayga hybrid model earlier in 2018 at the Geneva International Motor Show, introducing it as the brand’s very first electrified model. Spec details include a 3.0-liter V-6 mated with a plug-in electric motor, with the all-electric mode setting offering upwards of 31 miles of local emission-free driving.
It’s a solid initial effort, but the company’s new boss, Adrian Hallmark, says it needs to ramp up its EV effort even further, while also doubling down on autonomous and connected tech.
Hallmark took the helm as CEO earlier this year, moving over from a position at Jaguar Land Rover. Now, he’s proposing a new strategy going forward for the brand, as he feels Bentley got a bit left in the dust in developing the latest and greatest technology features.
“We maybe weren’t as prepared for autonomous, connected and electrified strategies as we could have been,” Hallmark told our friends over at Autocar in a recent interview. “The [Bentayga] hybrid is a great first step, but we need to do more than one hybrid. Hence the first thing we’ve changed [since I started] is the electrification of the cycle plan as fast as we can.”
Hallmark added that Bentley will add an “electrified option” (that is, either a hybrid or a full-electric) to each and every nameplate in its stable by 2025.
“We’ll flesh out specific plans in the next three to six months,” he said. “Certainly by the end of this year, we’ll be in a much clearer position about what we’ll do.”
Undoubtedly part of the motivation comes from the positive reaction that the Bentayga hybrid received in Geneva. “Of the five declared luxury brands of Lamborghini, Ferrari, Rolls Royce, Aston Martin, and us, we’re the first to do it in a conventional, production, mainstream vehicle,” Hallmark said. “And the kudos we’ve got for it, and the interest, is incredible.”
Hallmark says the first all-electric Bentley should be out in a relatively short timeframe.
Hallmark expects 10 percent of Bentayga sales to be hybrid, although he isn’t certain of those figures. After all, this is uncharted territory for the brand.
Some point to the Flying Spur as the next possible model variant to receive hybridization, while Hallmark says the first all-electric Bentley should be out in a relatively short timeframe. “I do know we will go electric in the next five years, it’s got to be, but body styles [for that car], we could do anything.”
Unsurprisingly, we’d love to see what Bentley could do with electrification in the realm of increasing performance, such as adding hybrid power to the Continental GT. Heavy, long-distance cruiser with power to spare? Sounds like a fantastic fit for extra batteries, if you ask us.
Of course, Bentley is owned by Volkswagen, which is working hard on its own electrification, autonomous, and connected programs, so Bentley shouldn’t have too much trouble sourcing the right tech to accomplish its EV goals, if that’s what it comes down to.
Do you think electrification is the right move for Bentley? Which nameplate would be the perfect fit for an EV? Let us know in the comments.
Read our full review on the 2017 Bentley Bentayga.
Read our full speculative review on the 2019 Bentley Flying Spur.
Read our full review on the 2018 Bentley Continental GT.
Read more Bentley news.