Bentley EXP 12 Speed 6e
Production EV possible
Bentley will choose either a sports car inspired by its EXP 12 Speed 6e concept or an additional SUV to become its fourth model line from 2021 — but whichever is chosen, the new car is likely to be the British manufacturer’s first pure-electric offering.
The EXP 12 Speed 6e concept unveiled at the Geneva motor show is a revised version of the EXP 10 Speed 6 coupé concept first seen in 2015. The new car features a convertible roof, a high-tech new interior and an electric powertrain. After Geneva, the Speed 6e concept will be used in customer clinics to canvass their views on electric cars and what they would expect from one made by Bentley.
“The concept is a discussion on where battery electric vehicles [BEVS] could go within Bentley,” engineering boss Rolf Frech told Autocar. “Can an EV be a real Bentley, a real luxury car? EVS have typically looked different and not what customers expect. For sure, in the future, we will go with a BEV and [so] we are trying to test reaction to such a car.”
To that end, the EXP 12 Speed 6e is officially billed as a ‘technology demonstrator’, but an all-electric Bentley will make production within the next decade.
Bentley boss Wolfgang Dürheimer said there is no imminent decision on the identity of a fourth Bentley model line because the product plan is already set for the next four years. After that, he said, there will be room to grow, and he is studying worldwide segments, including sports cars and other SUVS.
For now, it is important for “customers to decide and define electric vehicle motoring in the Bentley spirit”,” he said.
If the sports car is chosen as
the electric Bentley, it will be based on a Porsche-developed electric platform, have a range of more than 300 miles, use wireless induction charging and be four-wheel drive.
But whether or not that electric car will be a sports car closely matched in size and style to the Speed 6e, or something different, is yet to be confirmed. Only a downsized hybrid or pure-electric drivetrain will fit into the body and low nose of the Speed 6e, so such a model could not use Bentley’s V8 or W12 internal combustion engines.
The previous EXP 10 Speed 6 coupé concept has led directly to the Speed 6e and Frech said there is a “clear possibility to step into” that market sector, with a car to rival the likes of the Aston Martin Vantage and Mclaren 570S. Customer clinics for the 2015 concept were positive, but the decision to go into production is not as simple as winning customer approval, because a business case needs to be made.
Frech said the new customer clinics will gauge reaction not only to the car’s body shape, but also to the electric powertrain. “We’re looking at the concept [of electric cars], regardless of what the body is — sports car, crossover or SUV.”
Frech admitted he is keen to make a sports car, but said that Bentley is “going through the proper process with clinics, getting feedback on EVS, and also on style. Based on that, we make a business case and look at a cycle plan. Then we get a decision [from the board].”
Frech said there is no pressure on Bentley to grow its annual sales volume: “It’s about what’s best for the brand and customers. We’re not volume driven. We don’t want to dilute the brand.”
Only a downsized hybrid or pureelectric drivetrain will fit the body and low nose of the Speed 6e
Bentayga will begin the introduction of plug-in hybrids at Bentley
Concept showcases a potential rival to Aston’s Vantage line
EXP 12 Speed 6e has a luxurious and hightech two-seat cabin