Bentley’s debut electric vehicle, due in 2025, will be one of the first cars to use a new cutting-edge Audi-developed luxury car platform – and it will spearhead a series of radical new models that will expand Bentley’s range into new market segments.
The Crewe manufacturer, owned by the Volkswagen Group, has committed to offering only battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) from 2030 onwards and it plans to meet that deadline by rolling out a family of new EVs in the second half of this decade.
The first EV will take the form of a high-riding saloon. It will be based on a bespoke VW Group architecture, which is being developed by Project Artemis, an Audi-led initiative to develop an advanced EV platform.
Bentley EVs to target new sectors of the market
Bentley bosses are not expecting a major leap in battery technology any time soon so the firm’s first electric models will be designed to match the range and weight limitations of current systems with Bentley’s luxury positioning. The result will be models that differ significantly from Bentley’s current line-up.
Bentley chairman Adrian Hallmark told Autocar the firm has yet to decide if future electric models would take on the nameplate and lineage of existing combustion-engined models. But he added: “Our position is to look at customers and segments. As well as moving to electric, we’re going to adapt our product range because the world is changing.
“We want to appeal to more women and be more relevant in future urban environments which are very much different to today, and we want to appeal to modern luxury values which are different to ones from 20 years ago. We’ve already moved with the times but the times will change again in the next 10 to 15 years.
“Our product format, size and naming need to fit the product character and strategy based around customers and where we see those segments going. We love our current names. Maybe they’ll continue. But we’ll always follow customers, segments and values and find a name that fits.”
Although Hallmark said Bentley doesn’t foresee a “step change” in BEV technology, he suggested continuous improvements will help the firm to meet its range targets. From 2026 onwards, all new Bentley models will be either fully electric or plug-in hybrid, with the latter allowing existing models to continue.
“By 2025, we’re predicting 110kWh to 120kWh batteries will be available, which starts to put bigger cars in a position where you can get 400-500km [250-310 miles] range,” said Hallmark. “You need 150kWh-plus to get a full-size SUV to have the equivalent performance of a combustion-engined vehicle, which is why hybrids are so important in playing a part for bigger vehicles in the next five to 10 years.
“We think that BEVs with medium-size cars in that 2025-2030 range become feasible, and larger [electric] cars are post-2030, which is why 2030 is the date we plan to change everything.”