Bentley has taken a significant step in its plans to electrify all of its models from 2024, having officially opened its new engineering test centre at its headquarters in Crewe.
The £12.5 million site, which is a two-storey, 4600-square-metre facility, will begin testing immediately after receiving official approval from the UK's Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA).
It means Bentley can now carry out in-house emissions, fuel economy and electric range testing, including the latest WLTP fuel consumption and efficiency test procedures, and ensures testing can be undertaken more swiftly than using a third-party site.
The Volkswagen Group-owned brand currently has two plug-in hybrids on sale, variants of the Bentley Bentayga and Flying Spur, and will launch its first EV in 2025 before becoming an electric-only brand from 2030.
Bentley engineering board member Matthias Rabe said: “Today’s announcement is another key landmark in Bentley’s ongoing modernisation programme. It will give us the independence to test our own engines and further enhance our industry-leading manufacturing plant in Crewe as we move towards offering electric or hybrid versions of all our models by 2024.
“The centre will also allow Bentley to meet increased demand from customers for our luxury, hand-built vehicles, including the Flying Spur, the Continental GT and the new Bentayga.”
While it will begin testing immediately, the site will build up operations to meet all global emission standards by the middle of 2022.
The structure includes 773 square metres of office space, as well as 1550 square metres for the installation of a climate-controlled chassis dynamometer.
This highly advanced rolling road allows engineers to simulate different gradients of hill, measuring exhaust emissions from combustion-engined cars or electrical energy consumption from hybrid and future electric models. The ‘real-world’ simulations can also be completed across temperatures from -20deg C to 50deg C.
Bentley’s Technical Conformity department, which oversees compliance of all Bentley products, will be based at the site. There will also be a dedicated laboratory to run Real Driving Emissions (RDE) tests using the latest, portable emissions measurement systems.
In total, the facility will host 100 staff.