Currently reading: Bentley to build Audi-based electric saloon in Crewe from 2025
Boss Adrian Hallmark wants as much of Bentley's first electric car as possible to be assembled in the UK
Jim Holder
News
3 mins read
16 December 2020

Bentley's first EV, scheduled for launch in 2025, is likely to be assembled and finished at its Crewe headquarters, although the firm must earn the right to do so ahead of its Volkswagen Group peers, chairman and CEO Adrian Hallmark has revealed.

The EV is expected to be a high-riding saloon based on a bespoke VW Group architecture, codenamed Project Artemis, an Audi-led initiative to develop an advanced EV platform. As such, it is anticipated that the EV's bodies would be built at an Audi facility before being sent to the UK for finishing.

"We started building in Crewe in 1936 and we've invested hundreds of millions in infrastructure and certification for electrification, so we have the capability to do it," said Hallmark. "But the important thing to note is that we still have to be competitive, and fight to ensure the maximum possible content for our cars is made in Crewe. We are part of a group so we must prove we are the best option, but from a brand point of view, it is our mission to ensure everything can be built here.

"Yes, it is feasible that we may get coated, unpainted bodies and then do the rest of the work - all the way through to the bespoke trim and interiors, but we have a proud record of adding value on the site that is exceptional. Today, I can say that the mission for this car is to have it in Crewe."

Hallmark also highlighted potentially closer links with Audi in years to come, particularly highlighting the Project Artemis underpinnings. He said: “We will have more synergies in five to 10 years with Audi in terms of luxury than we do now with Porsche on sportiness.

“Working with Audi is an opportunity not a risk. We will have relations with sister brands and are happy to do so. It sends a strong message for Bentley's future that we are a strategic part of the group - that we are electrifying and are pushing forward.

“Artemis is a derivative of a new electrical architecture. It will be the basis for multiple products in different segments. With our current cars, we had to get into engineering largely after the architecture had been done. We had to add bits as well as engineer the architecture for Bentley. With this new one [Artemis], we're right in at the beginning defining what it needs to achieve for us. We're a benefactor of it and paying a contribution, so we can give detailed engineering requirements from day one so it makes industrialisation much easier for the company.”

Asked why Bentley is only launching its first EV in 2025, Hallmark said: “Weight is a concern [on electric cars], which is why we've waited. If you look at the power density per cubic centimetre five years ago and five years into the future, there has been a rapid evolution of power density but also power management. We build big heavy cars and they will be heavier. But improvements in battery tech and battery management, and a dedication to make cars lighter, have better aero and less resistance, mean even the heaviest car can be a very efficient car."

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Hallmark also dismissed concerns that not all nations would be ready to go electric by 2030, the date by which all new Bentleys will be electrified. He said: “It’s possible everywhere by then. Look at the rate of ramp-up on motorways and elsewhere – it’s extraordinary – and there will be innovations by then that help, too, such as inductive charging breakthroughs.”

In a wide-ranging interview, Hallmark also talked up autonomous functions but said Bentley will not be pioneering in the field – “We want to be a close follower but not a pioneer, to avoid all the boring bits” - and he called hydrogen “a great idea, but the quantities of energy required for its production and the challenges of storing and transporting it mean it doesn’t make sense yet.”

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Speedraser 16 December 2020

Woohoo, another "Bentley" based on someone else's car. Conti.1 based on the VW Phaeton platform and with a VW engine, Conti.2 based on a Panamera platform with a VW or Audi engine. Bentayga based on the Q7 platform, again with VW/Audi engines. Isn't it interesting that, when Conti.1 was on sale, Bentley told us how it really was a Bentley, that they made the VW platform and engine "Bentley's own." And then... Conti.2 appeared. Suddently, Bentley acknowledged how truly compromised the previous Conti was because of the shared platform. They even said the new Conti.2 was now a "real Bentley" because Bentley was involved in developing the platform (rather than being handed it and tasked with making a Bentley after the fact) -- so it could have a real impact on its design and make it more of a Bentley. (Which begs the question, did that make the Panamera less of a Porsche?) Now, in this article, we hear how it's important to do as much as possible in Crewe. Hallmark says "With our current cars, we had to get into engineering largely after the architecture had been done. We had to add bits as well as engineer the architecture for Bentley. With this new one [Artemis], we're right in at the beginning defining what it needs to achieve for us." Huh, I thought that's what he said about Conti.2... And yet, the EV will be a "Bentley" -- that's an Audi underneath. Nope, not at this level of car. A Bentley should be a Bentley, and only a Bentley.

wmb 17 December 2020

I thought the exact same thing when I read his comments too! I think what he meant, thought, was, as you said, the first Conti and Spur had a platform that was handed to them. The architecture for the second generation of these vehicles, Bentley was able to work with Porsche as they were engineering the next generation of the Panamera. So, they were involved much earlier in the process of development, as opposed to being handed a finished product and told to make it work! With this new endeavor, they are starting even earlier in the development process and can make recommendations from the very beginning. Yes it is Audi hardware, but as they are starting their engineering work, Bentley can have imput earlier on. This way when it is eventually handed off to them, they would have had some control in the beginning, making it easier to build something that is much more what they wanted in the end.

Strider 20 December 2020

Are the cars any worse because they incorporate hundreds of millions of Euros of VW Group R&D? No; they are more capable, much more reliable and (relatively) more affordable without any compromise to luxury. And, as Aston Martin discovered, designing and developing your own EV is a lot of costly that it at first apears and access to, and integration of, state-of-the-art media interfaces increasingly requires volume relationships with the Tier 1s. Personally, I'd rather have the company that makes today's oustanding GT than the one that staggered along making the Bentley T.

splurgegun 16 December 2020
induction pads won't be retrofitted to motorways in my lifetime. Look at the mess Nynex made of the roads in the nineties and the farce of so called "smart" motorways.
Induction pads will be buried under executive parking spaces for company directors too self important to plug in their £250k electric Bentley
Nickktod 16 December 2020

“It’s possible everywhere by then. Look at the rate of ramp-up on motorways and elsewhere – it’s extraordinary – and there will be innovations by then that help, too, such as inductive charging breakthroughs.”

 

Inductive charging is the biggie here. As soon as major trunk routes and next gen EVs are equipped with this technology you need much smaller batteries with benefits to weight and cost, and gain effectively unlimited range as you only deplete charge on local journeys and first/last mile of longer ones. Whichever electricity supplier you've signed up with sends you a bill at the end of the month based on your usage and chosen tariff completely seamlessly.