Bentley celebrated its centennial in 2019 and to mark the occasion unveiled the battery-electric EXP 100 GT concept that signalled the automaker's intentions for the future of grand touring.
On Thursday, Bentley announced that that future will arrive much sooner than previously thought. By the end of this decade, in fact.
Bentley will launch its first EV in 2025 and by 2030 will have a full-electric lineup, it said. It's part of a new strategy the automaker is undertaking to become the “global leader in sustainable luxury mobility.” To Bentley, that means being carbon neutral by 2030, including at its plant and the plants of its main suppliers.
"A 100-year-old company that's renowned for the best 12-cylinder, the most successful 12-cylinder in the world, will not be building engines in less than a decade,” Adrian Hallmark, chairman and CEO of Bentley, said in an online presentation.
Bentley's electric transformation started in 2018 with the arrival of the plug-in hybrid Bentayga Hybrid. Two more plug-in hybrids will join the lineup next year, likely based on the Continental GT and Flying Spur, and by 2026 every Bentley sold will either be a plug-in hybrid or an EV.
Bentley relies on its Volkswagen Group parent for platforms and the same will likely be true for the future EVs. Citing anonymous sources, Automobilwoche recently reported that Bentley's next-generation Continental GT and Flying Spur will be based on the PPE (Premium Platform Electric) modular platform being developed by Audi and Porsche. The first PPE-based vehicle will arrive in 2021 and could be Porsche's planned electric Macan.
The PPE platform has been confirmed to feature an 800-volt architecture. The high voltage, in combination with efficient cooling systems, means cars based on the platform will be able to charge at rates of up to 350 kilowatts, making 80% charges in about 20 minutes possible.
The PPE platform is suited to both low- and high-riding applications, and because of superior packaging of EVs, vehicles based on the PPE will have more interior space compared to internal-combustion vehicles of similar size. Bentley didn't talk about its planned EVs, but the first is expected to be a high-riding model blending elements of SUVs and sedans.