Bentley wants to build the electric car its customers are demanding, but says the battery technology required to do it properly is yet to appear.
According to the luxury brand’s chief executive, Adrian Hallmark, existing EV battery technology is comparable to “buying a battery that could only power a light bulb to half its capacity”.
As a result, an electric Bentley with adequate range would need so many battery packs it would be too heavy. If the weight was acceptable the car would not travel far enough on a single charge.
Speaking to Autocar magazine at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, Hallmark pointed to customer surveys that showed the brand’s customers are much more receptive to EVs than any of their rivals. Meanwhile, customer clinic data has shown that a recent concept’s desirability would have been higher if it had been a pure EV.
Hallmark made it clear that he is “in a rush” to build an electric Bentley.
“As a brand we should be at the forefront, and it is clear that there is absolute demand from certain customers for it – including a new target group of customers who want it, not just to comply with regulations but because it is desirable to them,” he said.
“But the issue is whether we can build a car that meets our values – and today we cannot. The conundrum is getting enough battery power density, getting the battery control modules as efficient as possible and then creating a car that delivers the required aero, rolling resistance and other parameters to be as efficient as possible.
“We are wrestling with multiple dimensions and it is my belief – and it is an informed estimate not a defined goal – that we will have the capability of building a car with the high performance and high range capabilities that our customers expect by around 2025.”
According to Hallmark, an electric Bentley must have a range of at least 400 miles, equivalent to a traditional internal combustion engine’s fuel tank. He added that the UK’s charging infrastructure also needs to improve.