British performance luxury marque Bentley plans to shift from internal combustion powerplants to battery-electric fast enough to make your head snap like so many of the vehicles it produces — in less than a decade.
Bentley’s push to electrify its entire portfolio with hybrids and battery-electric vehicles by 2026 with a move to BEVs only by 2030 is part of the company’s overall goal of being a carbon-negative company by the end of this decade. Those goals, and others, are all wrapped up in its Beyond100 strategic plan designed to keep the brand at the top of the luxury heap with its current customers as well as future buyers.
It’s this push – driven largely by governmental mandates – to make the company carbon neutral that ultimately trickled down into the plans for the vehicles, CEO Adrian Hallmark said.
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The company will launch not one, but two new hybrids next year. Further it expects that its entire model line-up will offer a hybrid variant to match the gas-powered vehicle by 2023. This will be followed by Bentley’s first-ever pure electric model in 2025 as it marches on to its goal of full electric by the end of the decade.
While the shift away from gas-powered vehicles in such a short period of time may be alarming to some, the 100-plus-year-old carmaker has a few good reasons to put this plan into gear. First, it’s based in Great Britain, which was slated to ban the sale of new gas- and diesel-powered vehicles in 2040. However, there is a push to accelerate the deadline to 2030, which would fit very nicely into Bentley’s new electrification timeline.
That said, Jan-Henrik Lafrentz, Bentley’s CFO, noted during an online event hyping Beyond100, that the company is advocating for hybrids to meet the government’s definition of zero-emission vehicles despite using an internal combustion engine as part of the pairing. He noted the company has been suggesting to government officials that there should be an “overlap period” to allow for the move from ICE-powered vehicles to hybrids because they cost less than pure EVs.
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On top of that, Bentley’s own research shows that the younger buyers they want to attract in the near future are looking for “an experience” when they buy a vehicle. They also noticed that 60% of “high net worth” people will be under 40 years old. Further research last year showed that after the brand introduced its EXP 100 GT electric concept car, it managed to get the eye of millennials with a double-digit uptick in the percentage of them saying that they intend to buy a Bentley.
In short, electric vehicles draw younger buyers and Bentley’s push to change over quickly means future buyers.
“We really see that we’re in a good position to engage with this customer,” said Chris Craft, the brand’s sales and marketing chief.
However, the company’s efforts aren’t limited to just producing carbon-neutral vehicles as quickly as possible. It’s looking to be the world’s leading environmental automaker. Its production site in Crewe, England was certified carbon neutral by the Carbon Trust. It achieved the ranking by implementing a variety of green processes, such as a water recycling system in the paint shop, planting trees, installing 30,000 solar panels to help it switch to renewable energy sources to power the facility.
Long term, Bentley wants to be carbon negative, and thinks it will happen by 2030. In short, the company’s vehicles and facilities will lower the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
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In the short term, Hallmark said the company was handling the impact of the pandemic well. The company expects to post break-even financials for the full year, selling more than 10,000 vehicles. Perhaps more importantly, the number of vehicles on order has risen 60% since the start of the year.