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Bentley two-seater could be an EV
Speed 6 concept might just be first electric Bentley, co-developed with the Porsche Mission E
Now that production of the Bentayga SUV is ramping towards its target of 5,500 units a year, Bentley is already mulling over what to do next. “At present we are evaluating in detail the possibility of bringing the EXP 10 Speed 6 to production, or a Coupe SUV with the same wheelbase as the Bentayga,” Wolfgang Dürheimer, Bentley’s CEO told us at the Geneva show.
The two aren’t mutually exclusive either. “I hope that we can realise both projects, but at present the coupe SUV is top of my list. The EXP 10 would need to be an all new car, that costs a lot of money and is quite a burden on our shoulders,” Dürheimer explained. There will be a decision on which one comes first “by the end of 2016.”
Like all good engineers, he’s working hard on a solution to build them both, and it might not be the route you’d expect. We asked Durheimer whether co-developing the project and platform sharing with the Porsche Mission E four-door electric sports car (already green-lit for production in 2020) is under consideration given the huge cost-saving implications? “Yes” he said, looking us square in the eye.
“Our packaging guys are currently looking at commonalities between the two, it needs a lot of attention. But, if we make enough money on the Bentayga then this is a big possibility,” he added. Given the Mission E concept was fitted with two motors delivering around 600bhp, a similar-sized powertrain could provide just the right performance and refinement that a Bentley sports car requires.
Bridging the gap between then and now will be a range of plug-in hybrids. “There is an EV hype at the moment, and I understand it,” said Dürheimer. “But the true luxurious experience, and it’s not cheap, is plug-in hybrid because you can always go wherever you want. Fortunately, Bentley are less price sensitive than most so this is the direction we will go.”
First up is the plug-in hybrid Bentayga (due in 2017 after the 4.0 V8 diesel version arrives) combining a V6 petrol engine with 70kg of batteries and an electric motor. EV range is expected to be around 30 miles, while total power output will be in the region of 500bhp. Dürheimer also confirmed the same powertrain will be fitted to the next-generation Continental GT.
W12s, V8s, plug-in hybrids and EVs; there are big changes afoot in Crewe. Our advice? Expect the unexpected.