At this point, premium automakers have no excuse not to have an all-electric vehicle in their line-up, like Tesla, or at least one in late stages of development, like Mercedes, Audi, Porsche, and others. It’s a different thing for more affordable vehicles, but batteries are now cheap enough to allow large battery packs in luxury cars with performance competitive with internal combustion engines.
British automaker Bentley is now considering joining the rest of the industry in electrification with an all-electric SUV.
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Considering the company is under the control of the VW Group, which plans to launch 25 electric cars by 2025, it’s not too surprising that the Bentley brand would contribute to the effort.
Bentley plans to avoid the go-to move to convert an existing model to electric propulsion and instead introduce its first EV with a brand new model, which should be an SUV smaller than the Bentayga.
Wolfgang Duerheimer, Bentley CEO, made the announcement in Portugal last week for the launch of the Continental Supersports.
Rolf Frech, Bentley’s board member for engineering, said that by making it electric and smaller than its flagship SUV, the company could expand its market share without cannibalizing itself (via Automotive News):
“If you are looking for such a car [small SUV] then we are looking at the combination with the possibilities to go full electric. It only makes sense if you get really new customers into the brand.”
Considering the Bentayga has a base price of $230,000, the new SUV is expected to be in the same ballpark. Overall, the Bentley brand has been delivering over 10,000 total units annually for the VW group, which is a small share of its total production, but all work toward electrification can help the other more popular brands.
VW’s other brands are also looking to soon release all-electric SUVs, like Audi with the e-tron quattro, Porsche with a Cayenne-like SUV using the powertrain developed for the Mission E, and even Lamborghini plans to release a plug-in version of the upcoming Urus.
Those vehicles are all expected in the next 2-3 years. As for Bentley, its first EV shouldn’t be available at least until 2020.
Featured image: Bentley Bentayga, Iceland, July 2016 – Photo James Lipman