Back in 2010, Bentley entirely subsisted on four models, splitting two massive gasoline powertrains. The brand’s 6.75-liter V8’s history stretched back half a century, while the relatively novel 6.0-liter W12 originally debuted in the Continental GT. But over the past decade, things have changed.
Bentley finally put the old V8 mill out to pasture this year with the Mulsanne’s deparature. And while the 6.0-liter W12 is still kicking around, its days are numbered. At least, that’s what the Volkswagen Group subsidiary more or less signaled with their recent announcement that the 100-year-old company would, in fact, go entirely electric by 2030. Yes, in a departure from some of its oldest rivals, the luxury brand will leave internal combustion behind within the next decade, making way for plug-in hybrids and eventually an entire fleet of battery-electric vehicles.
Two new PHEVs coming next year
To kick off its electric transition, Bentley already launched the Bentayga Hybrid SUV shown above last year. The company plans to launch two more plug-in models in 2021. Its first electric model should arrive in 2025, before finally phasing out internal combustion entirely. “Bentley will reinvent every aspect of its business to become an end-to-end carbon neutral organization as it embarks on its second century,” the company said in its official statement.
While the actual time frame may shift over the coming years, this announcement is a major shift for the Bentley brand. High-end marques have been slow to move toward electrification. Others, like Ferrari, may not integrate battery-electric cars into their lineup at all. Earlier this week, CEO Louis Camilleri said he “really doesn’t see Ferrari ever being at one hundred percent EV and certainly not in my lifetime will reach even fifty percent.” On the “lifetime” part, Camilleri is 65. At any rate, the Italian manufacturer has used electrification to aid performance, but the picture of powerful, large-capacity engines has remained a mainstay with brands like Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Lamborghini, Ferrari and so on.
In this week’s announcement, though, Bentley clarified its stance toward becoming a carbon-neutral outfit. If it does stick to its projected timeline, current global circumstances notwithstanding, the landscape will certainly look different by the mid-2020s.