Volkswagen Could Throw the Proverbial Turd in Bentley’s Punch Bowl
The Volkswagen Group Could Put a Stop to Bentley’s two-seater sports carby Robert Moore, on
A couple of years ago, Bentley surprised us all by showing off the 2015 Bentley EXP 10 Speed 6 Concept, a delicious-looking coupe with a bold design and more character than a Stephen King Novel. Then, just a couple of years later, Bentley found itself in the same place, only this time with the 2017 EXP 12 Speed 6e Concept. It had the bold styling of the first concept, but this time it was said to have an electrified drivetrain and unlimited headroom. The business case has been made, and the masses have shown lots of interest in such a model, but the Volkswagen Group could keep the Bentley two-seater from ever seeing production.
See, since Bentley is a part of the dirty VAG (pun intended,) it has to be careful when it comes to intergroup competition, and with the Audi R8 being a big model for Audi, VAG may not approve of the EXP in production form. In an interview with Motoring, Uday Senapati – the Head of Technical Operations at Mulliner – said, “From within Bentley, definitely yes [there’s momentum]. But we’re part of a big group, and it has to work with the rest of the group… Because we are a portfolio of brands, we can’t be overtly competing against each other.” When asked if a direct competitor to the R8 was off limits, he responded with, “Exactly. So if we can create a niche segment for it, then yes [we can do it].”
So, with that said, Bentley can’t just go the usual route with the two-seater if it’s ever to see production, but that doesn’t mean all is lost. Keep reading to find out.
Electrification Can Make a Big Difference
So, as things sit right now, Bentley has put some serious effort into research and development of its two-seater sports car. But, it has to have the go-ahead from the big boys over at the dirty VAG before Bentley can move forward. This means that, while a two-seater sports car isn’t out of the question, it can’t be a direct competitor to the Audi R8. So, what’s Bentley to do? Well, now the R8 e-tron is swimming with concrete wheels, Bentley could be wide open to offer a two-seater sports car with an all-electric drivetrain. It obviously didn’t work out for the e-tron, but we’re talking about the different between Audi and Bentley – let’s not compare apples to oranges. And, let’s not forget that Audi thought it was acceptable to charge more than $1 million for an electric version of the $170,000 R8. Talk about tooting your own horn, huh?
So, if Bentley plays its cards right, and goes with an all-electric drivetrain for a production version of the EXP concepts, VAG wouldn’t have as much of an issue approving it. After all, the current R8 is expected to carry on for at least the next few years as an all-engine model, so a Bentley two-seater wouldn’t be trampling all over its territory. Of course, a hybrid setup like that found in the EXP 10 isn’t exactly out of the question, but it will have to be significantly different from other Audi and Porsche products to see approval. Bentley could go with a front-engined configuration with a pair of electric motors driving the front axles. It’s not as likely to be approved by VAG, but it’s a possibility. If Bentley does go all-electric, it’s hard to say whether or not it would be accepted by the traditional Bentley customer, but as long as Bentley does go all Audi on it and try to charge way more than the car is worth, it could work out.
But, what do you think? Will the two-seater Bentley ever go into production? What drivetrain setup would you like to see? Would you buy an all-electric Bentley if you had the deep pockets required to walk into a Bentley dealership? Let us know in the comments section below.
Read our full review on the 2017 Bentley EXP 12 Speed 6e Concept here.