Bentley will launch production of its second plug-in hybrid later this year, a new version of its flagship Flying Spur sedan.
The introduction of the plug-in sedan comes roughly a year after Bentley debuted its first PHEV, a version of the big Bentayga sport-utility vehicle. Both are part of the automaker’s Beyond100 strategy, Bentley planning to shift entirely to all-electric models by 2030. But it will switch to plug-ins even before then.
“The next step in our journey will be to hybridize the Continental family,” Bentley CEO Adrian Hallmark said during a media webinar Tuesday morning. That includes both the GT coupe and GTC convertible. He said that transition should happen “before 2025.”
First BEV coming
Bentley expects to bring its first pure battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, to market by 2026, though it has not yet indicated which model that will be.
For his part, Hallmark said he was an “EV skeptic” until several years ago, but has now become an “evangelist.” He personally drives a Bentayga Hybrid and notes that it is not only silent when operating in electric mode but has sharply reduced his fuel consumption, filling up its gas tank barely once a month, rather than twice a week.
“Whenever you build a car it’s got to deliver on Bentley values,” said Hallmark, who said he has shifted from “EV skeptic” to “evangelist” over the last several years. “Now, we believe that electric powertrains fundamentally fit our DNA, giving effortless performance, a linear torque curve — and they’re refined.”
Plenty of power
The new Flying Spur Hybrid will deliver a peak 536 horsepower and 563 pound-feet of torque. The single electric motor – mounted between the engine and transmission – makes a peak 134 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. The Hybrid model can launch from 0 to 60 in 4.1 seconds. That’s only 0.1 seconds slower than the Flying Spur V-8, and 0.6 seconds slower than the flagship V-12-powered version of the sedan.
With a smaller engine up front and its 14.1 kilowatt-hour battery mounted in the back, the Hybrid actually has a better weight balance than the similarly powerful V-8 model, said David Parker, head of product marketing, during the Tuesday media briefing.
The battery pack will deliver an estimated range of about 25 miles per charge – though that was calculated using Europe’s WLTP cycle. That figure actually will drop by as much as a third using the more stringent U.S. EPA test. Recharging takes as little as 2.5 hours.
With the addition of the Flying Spur Hybrid, Bentley will offer a plug-in option for two-thirds of its products by sales volume, said Parker. And the electrified drivetrain is expected to generate about 30-to-40% of Flying Spur sales once it reaches showrooms. The U.S. and China are expected to become the largest market for the option, though Bentley expects to offer the Hybrid in most major markets.
A role for Rimac?
Parent Volkswagen AG is moving rapidly to electrify, the German giant planning to invest $86 billion in battery technology this decade. It announced a major alliance with Croatian EV maker Rimac over the weekend. That company will take control of the ultra-exclusive Bugatti brand, though VW subsidiary Porsche will retain a 45% stake in the new venture, Rimac Bugatti.
EO Hallmark said there are currently “no plans” for Bentley to work with Rimac. It primarily pairs up with another luxury division, Audi, for its electric drive technology. But Hallmark said Rimac could play a role in electrifying all of VW going forward.
Tuesday saw Bentley make another big announcement, this time revealing it will form a partnership with Scotch whiskey distiller Macallan – similar to the relationship it has with exclusive watch company Breitling.
The two new allies said Tuesday that they share a strong interest in sustainability and will explore ways to work together on the sourcing of sustainable materials. More practically, however, they plan to create cross-marketing ventures and even jointly branded products, such as Macallan-badged versions of Bentley vehicles.