Bentley has today announced revolutionary plans to be a fully-electric car maker within a decade – putting its first battery-powered zero-emissions model on the road within just five years.
The British luxury motor firm, renowned for its fast performance, grand touring and racing cars, will ditch big gas-guzzling and CO2 emitting petrol engines and by 2030 sell only pure electric vehicles after launching its very first one in 2025.
Its radical ‘accelerated journey towards electrification’ represented a ‘paradigm shift’ for Bentley Motors as part of its bid to become a ‘wholly ethical role model’ and a ‘global leader in sustainable luxury mobility‘.
It would also see the firm, which last year sold 11,000 luxury cars, live up in shade as well as deed to its traditional British Racing Green competition colours.
Bentley to be electric in 2030: The iconic British brand will ditch petrol engines for good in a decade’s time
By 2030, Bentley will end its 111-year history of selling cars with petrol engines.
The brand, formed in 1919, has also signalled its keen interest longer term in hydrogen-powered electric fuel-cells.
On the road to its fully green future, every Bentley model line will, by 2023, be offered with the option of an electric hybrid variant.
Two new plug-in hybrid models are planned next year – a new petrol-electric hybrid Bentayga 4X4 and an expected hybrid version of its large Flying Spur four door saloon.
By 2026 all new Bentleys sold will be electrified – meaning every variant will be available only as plug-in hybrid or pure electric models – with no petrol-only models.
The first new all-electric model in 2025 will be its ‘first cradle to grave fully carbon neutral car’, it said in an announcement this afternoon.
Adrian Hallmark, Bentley’s chairman and chief executive, said it was time for ‘profound change’ for the motor maker.
‘We are on a mission. We need to change everything.
‘But our cars in the future will look as inspirational and glorious as they do today,’ he added.
Ray Massey poses with the electric Bentley EXP 100 GT concept car, which features astonishing doors that are 2 metres wide and pivot outwards and upwards like Bentley’s flying wing logo
By 2030, Bentley would have ditched gas-guzzling petrol engines for the first time in its 111-year history
Gone will be models like the new £168,000 Flying Spur. It is powered by a 635hp 6.0-litre W12-cylinder petrol engine that returns a mere 19.1mpg with C02 emissions of 337g/km
The pledged zero emissions contrasts sharply to the out-going £286,000 184mph Bentley Mulsanne whose powerful 6.75-litre V8 engine averages only 17.4 mpg and pumps out a hefty 365g/km.
The new £168,000 207mph Flying Spur powered by a 635hp 6.0-litre W12-cylinder engine does just 19.1mpg with C02 emissions of 337g/km.
Bentley’s switch to having only fully electric zero emissions cars by 2030 also coincides with making the production process and Crewe factory both carbon and plastic neutral.
It is central to its ‘Beyond 100’ strategy marking the beginning of its second century after celebrating its centenary last year.
It comes as the Government has announced that sales of new petrol, diesel and even hybrid cars will be banned by 2035, and possibly as early as 2030.
It coincides with reports – described by the firm as ‘speculation’ – that a restructuring by Volkswagen could see Bentley more closely linked to its VW sibling Audi.
Bentley’s switch to having only fully electric zero emissions cars by 2030 also coincides with making the production process and Crewe factory both carbon and plastic neutral
The ‘Beyond 100’ strategy will mark the beginning of Bentley’s second century after celebrating its centenary last year
Bentley’s Crewe headquarters currently employs 3,000 staff, having cut around 800 workers following the coronavirus pandemic
Bentley’s Crewe headquarters currently employs 3,000 having recently shed 800 jobs as part of restructuring coinciding with the Covid-19 pandemic, and is part of giant Volkswagen Group.
It was one of the first UK manufacturers to re-start production lines following the first lockdown, with operations commencing from 11 May.
Mr Hallmark said the firm was on track for record sales before Covid struck – but could still break even.
Despite dipping into heavy losses in the second quarter of 2020 – countering profits in quarter one, he insisted: ’We could still get to break even for the full year.’
‘If it were not for that second quarter we’d be in a good place,’ he added.
As well as being traditionally famed for its big gas-guzzling petrol engines, including mammoth V12 cylinder versions, Bentley is also renowned for its racing prowess harking back to the ‘Bentley Boys’ – led by racing driver Woolf Barnato – of the 20s and 30s.
It also has a strong association with fictional British secret agent 007 which pre-dates his subsequent love affair with Aston Martin. James Bond’s first car, in the original Ian Fleming books and in the first Dr No movie, was actually a supercharged ‘blower’ Bentley.
The iconic British manufacturer, which operates in in 68 markets globally, said it was ‘evolving from the world’s largest producer of 12-cylinder petrol engines to having no internal combustion engines within a decade’ and ‘reinventing itself as a leader in sustainable luxury mobility’.
A hint at Bentley’s electrified future was given during the firm’s centenary celebrations year last year with the reveal of the all-electric EXP 100 GT concept car using green materials including a leather-like textile upholstery made from a bi-product of wine-making.
The EXP 100 GT concept has a predicted range of range of 435 miles, a top speed of 186mph and acceleration from 0 to 60mph in under 2.5 seconds
Bentley described the electric-powered coupe as a ‘fully-autonomous car that can be driven when one wishes to enjoy the thrill of driving’
Announcing the radical new Beyond100 strategy via a live online broadcast from its factory headquarters in Crewe, the firm said: ‘With Bentley’s first pure electric model to be launched in 2025, Bentley is today announcing a move towards zero emission mobility.
‘Following the introduction of the first Bentley fully electric model in 2025 – Bentley’s first cradle to grave fully carbon neutral car – Bentley will exclusively offer plug-in hybrid and electric models only within its range in 2026. By 2030, this will change to battery electric vehicles only.’
It noted: ’Bentley will reinvent every aspect of its business to become an end-to-end carbon neutral organisation as it embarks on its second century.’
To foster a greater mix of managers, 30 per cent are to be from diverse backgrounds, up from 20 per cent today.
Bentley was formed in 1919 and has sold petrol-powered cars since the birth of the brand
Bentley’s chairman, Adrian Hallmark, said: ‘Since 1919, Bentley has defined luxury grand touring. Being at the forefront of progress is part of our DNA – the original Bentley boys were pioneers and leaders’
Hallmark added: ‘Since 1919, Bentley has defined luxury grand touring. Being at the forefront of progress is part of our DNA – the original Bentley boys were pioneers and leaders.
‘Now, as we look Beyond100, we will continue to lead by reinventing the company and becoming the world’s benchmark luxury car business.’
Mr Hallmark noted: ‘Driving this change includes, and also goes beyond our products, delivering a paradigm shift throughout our business, with credibility, authenticity, and integrity. Within a decade, Bentley will transform from a 100 year old luxury car company to a new, sustainable, wholly ethical role model for luxury.
Mr Hallmark has in the past suggested that hydrogen fuel cells – using the lighter than air gas combined with oxygen in a chemical reaction to produce electric power, with only the bi-product of pure water (H20) coming out of the exhaust pipe – are a longer term aim.
How Bentley intends to make it’s Crewe factory more eco-friendly
Aerial photographs of Bentley’s vehicle factory located in Crewe in Cheshire
Bentley aims to reduce the environmental impact of its factory by 75 per cent (on a 2010 baseline) in five years– including being plastic neutral.
Last year, Bentley’s 80-year-old factory in Crewe was transformed to become the first luxury automotive plant in the UK to be certified carbon neutral by the Carbon Trust. This followed two decades of work on environmentally-friendly innovation including a water recycling system in the paint shop, local tree planting, installing 30,000 solar panels, and switching to renewable-only electricity sources.
By the end of this year, all Bentley suppliers will also have passed a ‘sustainability audit’ verifying their green credentials.
Bentley was one of the first UK car makers to return after the first coronavirus lockdown. Like all manufacturers, social distancing and PPE has been a must ever since
Bentley said the Crewe factory will will be both carbon and plastic neutral by 2030. Pictured, the assembly line full of gas-guzzling Bentayga SUVs
Bentley said it was also bouncing back from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic – which led to 800 voluntary redundancies including the loss of 200 contractors – to become ‘financially resilient and recession-proof.’
Blending handcrafted cars and digital technology, Bentley is investing in two new research and development buildings, a vehicle test centre and a dedicated quality centre. There will also be greater scope for its bespoke Mulliner division, which produced the recently revealed Bacalar.
Bentley’s Crewe factory encompasses design, research and development, engineering and production of the company’s current three model line: the Continental grand tourer, Flying Spur luxury saloon and Bentayga 4X4.
The firm said Bentley is ‘an example of high-value British manufacturing at its best.’