Battery-electric technology may not develop sufficiently to give larger Bentleys the capability needed to appeal to customers, according to Werner Tietz, its head of engineering – adding the firm could look to hydrogen fuel cell technology.
Talking at the Geneva motor show, Tietz said that current battery technology made it difficult to envisage a wholesale switch by the brand to battery-powered cars in the near future. The company has begun electrifying its range, last year launching a plug-in hybrid version of the Bentayga SUV.
“We are looking at several concepts, but it is by no means certain that battery-electric is the right way to go,” said Tietz. "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.
“So what we are looking for is a step in technology that doubles battery capability. We have looked at solid-state batteries for nearly five years now - they should be able to achieve these goals, but they are not yet ready. If solid-state achieves its goals, then it becomes interesting - but only then.
“That’s why we are 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.”
Tietz highlighted the potential for synthetic fuels to be made using clean energy, such as wind power, as being especially appealing.
“The evidence is that these fuels could be CO2-neutral, and that raises interesting possibilities,” he said. “Already we see the airline industry looking into this quite seriously - the electric plane doesn’t look like becoming a large-scale reality soon - and that could help us open up possibilities. We have open minds.”