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Bentley Bringing Plug-in SUV Concept to Geneva

Maker to put “green” spin on its planned luxury ute.

by on Mar.01, 2012

After taking over from Franz-Josef Paefgen (r), Bentley's new CEO Woflgang Durheimer has pressed for the development of the marque's first SUV.

Big SUVs are so outré, or so the environmentalists would have you believe, and they may be right considering the continued migration of traditional truck-based SUVs to more efficient crossovers.  So what is a Bentley to do as it prepares to bring its first sport-utility vehicle to market?  How about putting a green spin on the new offering by driving it into Geneva’s PALExpo using a plug-in hybrid drivetrain.

Whether we’ll actually see Bentley deliver this battery-based powertrain to market anytime soon will be one of the big questions likely to dominate the maker’s news conference at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show, next week.

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The unusual approach, first reported by Automotive News, would clearly put an environmentally friendly halo around a brand not typically associated with green machines.  That could be useful considering the as yet-unnamed Bentley SUV will be going up against a wave of new luxury utes coming from makers as diverse as Maserati and Lamborghini, never mind Porsche, which will add the downsized Macan to its current Cayenne line.

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Bentley Planning Ultra-Luxury SUV

Third model line could also get a new hybrid or diesel.

by on Aug.22, 2011

Dr. Franz-Josef Paefgen (right) hands over the keys to his successor as Bentley CEO Wolfgang Durheimer.

Bentley, the classic British luxury carmaker, wants to add a sport-utility vehicle to its line-up, a move it predicts could yield a 50% increase in demand over its all-time sales record, the maker’s chief executive told TheDetroitBureau.com.

The new model could come as a surprise to those who expect to see Bentley stick with classic luxury designers, like the big Mulsanne and smaller Continental lines, “But I think people will adapt to the shock,” as they have when other brands like Porsche have introduced SUVs to their line-up, said Bentley CEO Wolfgang Durheimer, during a pair of exclusive interviews at the annual Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance over the weekend.

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Durheimer should know.  In his previous incarnation as the top engineer at Porsche he led the development of the Cayenne, that sport-ute now the top-seller in the German maker’s line-up.  When initially told of the project, said Durheimer, Porsche dealers, “warned us it’s dangerous, but five years later we doubled the size of the company.”

Targets for the Bentley SUV aren’t quite as aggressive, but the maker still hopes to boost global sales to 15,000 a year with the new ute, compared with the previous all-time high of about 10,000.

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Rolls Explores Electric Options

Will motorists opt for a $500,000 car with 100-mile range?

by on Jul.13, 2011

Is Rolls-Royce ready to plug into battery power? The 102EX concept is serving as the anchor of a year-long feasibility study.

With U.S. regulators looking at 56 mpg fuel economy standards and their European counterparts talking about 100 mpg, where does a company like Rolls-Royce, making massive metal tanks like the Phantom, fit in?

That’s a question the British marque is desperately trying to answer as it studies response to its battery-car prototype.

A subsidiary of Germany’s BMW — which also faces challenges meeting strict new fuel economy and emissions laws — Rolls has been exploring the seemingly unlikely idea of going electric.  Its 102EX Concept made its debut at the Geneva Motor Show, earlier this year.

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Considering the amount of leather and wood, never mind leather and steel, that goes into the typical Rolls-Royce, it may never win an environmental award – though it might take credit for using renewable resources and more earth-friendly methods.  The big challenge will be to reduce what comes out of the tailpipe.

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