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Geneva: Bentley and Jaguar go electric

Upmarket brands adopting electric tech

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The Bentley EXP 12 Speed 6e and Jaguar I-Pace may both be concepts but demonstrate how all aspects of the automotive industry, including the premium and luxury sectors, are looking increasingly to an electric future.

With the EXP 12 Speed 6e, unveiled at the Geneva show, Bentley aims to demonstrate that an all-electric version of one of its cars will not compromise the quality, refinement and high performance levels that customers of the luxury brand expect.

“The EXP 12 Speed 6e is a concept to show that Bentley is defining electric motoring in the luxury sector, with the appropriate technology, high quality materials and refinement levels you’d expect from a true Bentley,” company chairman and CEO Wolfgang Dürheimer says.

This version of the concept is aimed mainly at gauging reaction to Bentley’s latest exterior and interior design direction, and no mechanical details of the Speed 6e powertrain have been released.

Long range a priority

Bentley is working towards electric technology that will include high-speed inductive charging and give the car a range sufficient for the ‘grand touring’ requirements of the brand’s customers.

“An electric Bentley would, for example, be able to drive between London and Paris or Milan and Monaco on a single charge and the onboard experience will be enhanced for both driver and passenger thanks to the integration of state-of-the-art technology,” Bentley’s launch release states.

Bentley wants to show that electric cars will offer the same level of bespoke craftsmanship.

The brand is planning for an electric future, with plug-in hybrid variants set to be offered across the Bentley model range starting with the Bentayga SUV in 2018.

“This concept enables us to engage with luxury customers and gather feedback on our approach,” Dürheimer says. “Bentley is committed to offering an electric model in its future portfolio and we are interested to receive feedback on this concept.”

electric Jaguar i-Pace front 34
The Jaguar i-Pace is on show in almost production-ready form. Photo: Andrew Charman

Pace quickens at Jaguar

The Jaguar I-Pace concept makes its European debut following its reveal at Geneva in January, and a production version will not be far behind.

Jaguar has been taking registrations from customers wanting to be among the first to own a production I-Pace, and according to reports 350 have already signed up.

While the car is closely related to the recently launched F-Pace, development of the I-Pace required the design teams to ‘tear up the rule book’, according to Jaguar design director Ian Callum. The result, he believes, is a no-compromise smart, five-seat sports car and a performance SUV in one.

“The I-Pace Concept is a radical departure for electric vehicles – it represents the next generation of battery electric vehicle design,” Callum says.

“It’s a dramatic, future-facing design – the product of authentic Jaguar DNA matched with beautiful, premium details and British craftsmanship.”

The production I-Pace will be on the roads in 2018 as Jaguar’s first-ever battery-powered electric vehicle. “(It) opens a new chapter in the history of our legendary brand,” Callum says.

electric Jaguar i-Pace side
Jaguar I-Pace will be on roads in 2018. Photo: Andrew Charman

The latest from The Car Expert

Andrew Charman
Andrew Charman
Andrew is a road test editor for The Car Expert. He is a member of the Guild of Motoring Writers, and has been testing and writing about new cars for more than 20 years. Today he is well known to senior personnel at the major car manufacturers and attends many new model launches each year.