Currently reading: Bentley engineering boss hints at plan to develop synthetic fuels
Matthias Rabe echoes recent comments from his Porsche counterpart about e-fuels
Autocar-Felix-Page
News
3 mins read
23 March 2021

Bentley engineering boss Matthias Rabe has hinted that the British marque could follow its Volkswagen Group sibling Porsche in developing synthetic fuels to preserve its ICE car offering. 

Speaking ahead of the brand's annual results conference, Rabe said: "We're looking more at sustainable fuels, either synthetic or bio-gen. We think the combustion engine will be around for a long time yet, and if that's the case, then we think there can be a significant environmental advantage from synthetic fuels. We will have more to say on this in time, but we're positive about this technology.

To receive the latest industry news, please click here to sign up to the Autocar Business newsletter

"We absolutely believe in e-fuels as a further step beside electromobility. We will probably tell you more details on this. Right now the costs are high and we will have to install some processes, but in the long-term, why not?"

His comments come just a few days after Porsche research-and-development boss Michael Steiner suggested that the use of e-fuels could allow the firm to continue selling ICE cars for several years to come, perhaps even after 2030 in the UK. 

Porsche has partnered with technology giant Siemens to build an e-fuels production facility in Chile and will begin physical trials of the technology next year. The firm has previously said the 911 will be the last of its models to go electric and that it's investigating means of preserving the lifespan of its venerable flat-six petrol engine. 

There has been no indication that Bentley is planning to invest in Porsche's and Siemens' Haru Oni project, but company chairman Adrian Hallmark confirmed to Autocar last year that it will launch a number of new and updated ICE cars in the run-up to going all-electric in 2030. 

Hallmark agreed with Rabe, but with the caveat that e-fuels aren't an immediate and all-encompassing solution: "Today we need about five trillion barrels of oil a day, so replacing that with e-fuels won't be possible," he said.

"But as EV uptake rises, to further reduce the impact of cars that need liquid fuels, it can be a parallel exercise, and we can be involved in that journey too. It won't replace battery electric vehicles, but it can extend the life of combustion-engined cars in a more sustainable way."

This latest hint from Bentley isn't the first time that it has expressed an interest in synthetic fuels. In 2019, Rabe's predecessor, Werner Tietz, told Autocar: "We're looking at several concepts, but it's by no means certain that battery-electric is the right way to go. 

Back to top

"One point we see is that some cars in our line-up – the Bentayga, for instance – are used for towing horseboxes and boats. With the current EV technology, that wouldn’t work."

In light of this incompatibility between current EV technology and the brand's heavy, performance-focused luxury cars, Tietz said: “That’s why we're also evaluating fuel cell technology constantly, even if it is probably 10 years away from reaching a point it can be practical, and also seeing what possibilities there are with the development of synthetic fuel."

READ MORE

Porsche could use e-fuels to sell combustion cars after 2030​

Synthetic fuels prove electric cars aren't the only optio​n

Under the skin: Synthetic fuels now make more sense than ever​

Join the debate

Comments
12
Add a comment…
chandrew 24 March 2021

E-Fuels obviously have a place in the future energy mix but they come with some sizeable downsides which these articles don't highlight. Firstly, they're costly and very energy-intensive to manufacture. Secondly, depending on their source materials large-scale manufacturing could require a shift in the use of productive land from food, or further increase the pressures on deforestisation. For relatively small volume manufacture to provide an option for those able to pay it makes sense. For a Porsche or Bentley driven occasionally by a wealthy owner they make sense, for other use-cases they are unlikely to.

Citytiger 23 March 2021

 Why not just say VAG are intereste in bio/synthetic fuel, they are all the same bloody comany, they all p*** in the same pot. 

MarkII 23 March 2021
The pro-BEV/anti-Efuel sentiment here is baffling! Unless you consider those people have their own vested interests, in promoting BEV as the ONLY solution - which of course, it isn't!
There are so many pro-BEV keyboard jockeys in this comment section, who apparently know more than the people at the cutting edge of synthetic fuel development. They do all they can to discredit something, they know little to nothing about and seek to kill it off, before it's even been evaluated.
All solutions to the future of mobility should be considered.
Oh the hypocrisy of this head-in-ass luddite attitude from so-called futurists.
shiakas 24 March 2021
I think its more than fair to be suspicious and critical of any solution the oil industry comes up. They have worked really hard to prove that they value their profits above human life, the environment and truth.
It is very easy for someone to read these articles and come away with the impression that we can continue with the status quo just by switching fuels since, every time, the author fails to mention any drawbacks of these fuels. The fact that they will always cost 5 - 6 times more than running an EV (and likely twice what it costs to run on fossil fuels) and that there is a CO2 cost to producing and distributing efuels
The Colonel 24 March 2021
MarkII wrote:

The pro-BEV/anti-Efuel sentiment here is baffling! Unless you consider those people have their own vested interests, in promoting BEV as the ONLY solution - which of course, it isn't! There are so many pro-BEV keyboard jockeys in this comment section, who apparently know more than the people at the cutting edge of synthetic fuel development. They do all they can to discredit something, they know little to nothing about and seek to kill it off, before it's even been evaluated. All solutions to the future of mobility should be considered. Oh the hypocrisy of this head-in-ass luddite attitude from so-called futurists.

But you haven't said why they are wrong.  Of all the critical comments under this article most are about the reporting itself, and some maths, not necessarily the content.

Neither Porsche or Bentley are claiming e-fuels are a solution to the future of mobility.  The Siemens / Porsche venture in Chile will produce enough fuel to cover motorsport and the very niche area of their business, nothing more.  They may be feeling a little sore, pinning their hopes on keeping the 911, at least, going with ICE for a lot longer - as in 2019 e-fuels were seen to be the future for 911 continuation - but the 2035, and then 2030, deadlines have derailed that desire somewhat. 

Just in December, last year, Adrian Hallmark stated, in an interview with City AM, that Bentley will be fully electrified by 2030 and, more than that, said that it is an obligation to be so.

The path they are both following, now, appears to be one of persuaission.  Trying to persuade governments - possibly outside of Europe and Japan - that there is a future for ICE and that further wholesale bans may not be entirely necessary.  It's a line, I suppose, though still to fulfill a niche, but they are at least more honest about it than the report that Aston's James Stephens put out.

 

xxxx 24 March 2021
MarkII wrote:

The pro-BEV/anti-Efuel sentiment here is baffling! Unless you consider those people have their own vested interests, in promoting BEV as the ONLY solution - which of course, it isn't! There are so many pro-BEV keyboard jockeys in this comment section, who apparently know more than the people at the cutting edge of synthetic fuel development. They do all they can to discredit something, they know little to nothing about and seek to kill it off, before it's even been evaluated. All solutions to the future of mobility should be considered. Oh the hypocrisy of this head-in-ass luddite attitude from so-called futurists.

Calm down, and cut down on the insults please. There's no anti-Efuel sentiment just a requirment for facts, suggest you reread pikkoz comments from a couple of days ago in respect of porshe maybe using bio fuels in 11 years, he certainly knows alot more than you.