British firm evaluating options because it feels current battery-electric technology may not appeal to customers

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.”

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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.”

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