Bentley has announced details of its electrification roadmap – and the first of five new battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) will be British built.
The luxury car maker has announced plans to launch its first EV – details of which are yet to be released – in three years’ time, and to build it at Crewe as part of a £2.5 billion investment in sustainability over the next ten years.
The car will be followed by four additional new electric models from 2026 to 2029, by which time Bentley expects to offer an exclusively electric range, as well as being carbon-neutral across the firm’s operations. It also means that the full Bentley range will be compliant with the government’s plan to ban all new petrol and diesel cars from 2030.
No details of the new cars have been released but, according to industry sources, the first few are likely to be ‘medium-sized vehicles’, which for Bentley means vehicles that are similar in size to the current model range (Continental, Bentayga, Flying Spur).
A flagship replacement for the discontinued Mulsanne limousine and an SUV even larger than the Bentayga could potentially complete the new EV range. These would arrive at the end of the decade when the battery technology to provide enough range for such large and heavy cars is likely to be available.
Currently the only electrified option in the Bentley range is a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version of the Bentayga SUV. The Flying Spur saloon will also gain a PHEV model in 2022 and five more PHEVs are also planned ahead of the all-electric cars. These will almost certainly be plug-in versions of the existing Continental GT and GTC models, and then potentially some higher-performance PHEV models as well.
Bentley has long traded on its British heritage and the historic status of the Crewe plant but these have been diluted in recent times by some manufacturing abroad at other plants operated by the brand’s owner Volkswagen. Some traditionalists feared the inevitable move to EVs would accelerate this dilution.
However as part of its ‘Beyond 100’ strategy first announced in 2020, Bentley plans to build a new ‘Dream Factory’, alongside its existing facilities it Crewe, to produce its EVs. The firm says such vehicles are key to the strategy which aims to “redefine the company as the benchmark luxury automotive manufacturer.”
Industry sources do claim, however, that bodies for the first new EVs will be made in Germany alongside a new Audi EV using the same chassis as the Bentley. The unpainted bodies will then be shipped to the UK for completion at Crewe.