There’s no certainty on the EV model, but the hybrid SUV is scheduled to arrive in 2018

Bentley hasn’t totally closed the door on the possibility of building an all-electric model. The company’s design director, Stefan Sielaff, told Autocar that Bentley’s higher brass has requested its design team to come up with a preliminary sketch of an all-electric model. However, there’s still no certainty that such a model will be given the go signal.

Big boss Wolfgang Durheimer is lukewarm on the idea, having gone on record saying that an all-electric model isn’t a “priority” for the company because it isn’t as important to Bentley’s “brand values” as its more traditional models. But, there is still some room for consideration, even if it’s a small one at best. What’s more certain is a plug-in hybrid electric car, which Durheimer himself admitted has become a priority for Bentley. He even doubled down on that commitment by promising to have a plug-in hybrid powertrain on all of its models in the near future.

The first model to get this powertrain is the Bentayga SUV, which is scheduled to have a PHEV version by 2018. Bentley will almost certainly have a keen eye on how successful that model turns out because it could determine if there’s room for its other models, including the Continental, to receive a similar hybrid engine.

It’s clear that Bentley wants to be a player in this market, but it’s also approaching it with some caution knowing that success could lead to demand for a full EV model in the future. Right now, it’s unlikely that Bentley will cross that bridge, but in asking Sielaff and his design team to come out with a preliminary sketch of a full EV model, it shows that Bentley is at least trying to cover its bases in the event it changes its mind and builds an all-electric vehicle.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

Why it matters

Bentley has never been shy talking about its place in the industry. By all accounts, it’s not a traditional automaker, nor is it a mainstream one. It’s status as one of the most luxurious brands in the business means that it operates under different parameters than the Toyotas, Fords, and General Motors of the world.

Whereas those companies know that it’s in the best interest for their brands to get EV models, Bentley is different because it has an image - or brand values, as Durheimer put it - to protect. Going full electric may not sit well with some of its customers, especially those who fear that doing so means that Bentley would simply acquiesce to peer pressure.

To its credit, Bentley is going half-way with the plug-in hybrid models. It doesn’t have to because it’s business depends more on luxury and refinements, but the company is cognizant of the increasing need for automakers to at least go down this road. As Durheimer put it, “it’s a good compromise” for models to have the range that customers are used to with the capability to run emissions-free in some areas.

“Compromise” is the operative word right there because Bentley has shown the willingness to embrace the so-called hybrid revolution in the industry. But, there are limitations to this, and as far as the company is concerned, all-electric is the bridge that it has no plans of crossing just yet.

That’s not to say that we’re never going to see an all-electric Bentley in the future. A lot of factors could force the company to change its stance on that issue. Bentley knows this and while its plans don’t call for one, the company still understands that closing that door entirely isn’t really an option either.

Bentley Bentayga

2017 Bentley Bentayga High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the Bentley Bentayga here.

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