Bentley Looking At Electric Future For The Mulsanne
Emissions standards and market conditions could force the British automaker’s handby Kirby Garlitos, on
Electric cars are the future of the auto industry. That narrative has been pounded into the heads of everybody and yet, it’s also becoming more evident as more automakers disclose their respective EV plans in the coming years. The latest to do is Bentley, which apparently considering the possibility of releasing an all-electric version of the Mulsanne. The luxury and performance purists will undoubtedly gasp at the thought, but given that external circumstances are forcing Bentley’s hand, an all-electric Mulsanne may be more of a question of “when” than “if” it happens.
Hans Holzgarner, the Mulsanne’s product and marketing manager, recently spoke with Autocar about the thought of an EV version for Bentley’s flagship model and while he didn’t promise anything outright as far as production plans are concerned, there is an increasing awareness within Bentley that an EV Mulsanne is imminent.
It’s no secret that markets like China and several parts of Europe have become more proactive in encouraging a zero-emissions future. For Bentley to be able to cater to these markets properly, it’s going to have to abide by the dictates of markets that are already embracing electric vehicles. Bentley could find itself getting locked out of these places if it doesn’t release an EV version of the Mulsanne.
In Bentley’s defense, Holzgartner said that the company isn’t trying to fight the advent of electric vehicles. On the contrary, it’s already piecing together a plan that would allow it to meet the increasingly stringent demands of global emissions regulations while also retaining the Mulsanne’s overall character. How these plans will materialize is still being discussed, but at this right, nobody would be surprised if Bentley does end up releasing an all-electric version of the Mulsanne simply because the markets will end up dictating it.
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Why it matters
As big as the auto industry is, there are moments that are bigger and the industry itself will have to find its way around them if it hopes to continue thriving. The increased awareness in environmental protection is one of those moments for the auto industry and we’re all seeing how it’s affecting the business strategies of automakers moving forward.
Think about it. Would Bentley even consider developing an EV Mulsanne if external forces didn’t dictate it? I don’t think it would happen. It’s the same thing with just about every automaker in the world today. Electric vehicles are becoming more important because governments around the world are beginning to see the benefits it poses to the environment. These same governments are then implementing stricter guidelines for auto companies to meet and unless they’re met, these automakers stand the risk of being closed out to these markets.
In Bentley’s case, it’s doing a good job spinning this into a positive thing for the company. Hans Holzgarner alluded to that when he told Autocar that going electric on the Mulsanne isn’t that big of a leap because the transition is smoother compared to sports cars Luxury saloons like the Mulsanne don’t put as much of a premium on power as sports cars. As long as the Mulsanne’s comfort and luxury characteristics are still there – and the loads of torque brought about by EVs – then it shouldn’t be a problem.
Still, Bentley understands that power is still a critical ingredient of the overall Mulsanne experience. It’s especially more important for a version like the Mulsanne Speed, which relies on that delicate balance of power and luxury more than any other variant of the Mulsanne.
The British automaker knows this and that’s the challenge it has in front of it right now. It probably wouldn’t be in this position if EVs haven’t become as big as they have today, but that’s the price automakers like Bentley has to pay in order to appease the markets it wants to be a part of.
Read our full review on the 2017 Bentley Mulsanne here.