Bentley says its first EV will have "brave" styling compared to the competition.
To celebrate the company's centenary last year, Bentley presented the stunning EXP 100 GT, the luxury automaker's vision of a fully electric grand tourer. More recently, the EXP 100 GT's dramatic styling inspired the stunning Bentley Mulliner Bacalar roadster.
But while the EXP 100 GT packs a fully electric powertrain with four motors producing a combined 1,340 horsepower and 1,100 lb-ft of torque, the Bacalar uses the same 6.0-liter W12 engine as the Continental GT with 650 hp and 667 lb-ft of torque. Looking ahead, Bentley wants its first production EV to adopt a striking design like the EXP 100 GT to distinguish it from its combustion-powered siblings.
"We are experimenting at the moment with an EV," Bentley's design director Stefan Sielaff said in a recent interview with Autocar. "My instinct is to create an EV which is a very modern step forward. It always has to be a Bentley, but the proportions of an EV will look different."
While some EVs share design similarities with combustion models to prevent alienating customers, Bentley wants its future electric grand tourer to stand out from the competition with a "brave" design.
"If we look at the Taycan, it's still a Porsche. If you look at Tesla, they don't look deliberately dramatic," Sielaff said.
The BMW i3, on the other hand, still stands out today thanks to its quirky styling, but Sielaff doesn't think owners find the design very appealing. "I admire, as a designer, BMW for doing the i3, but if you speak to customers, they say it looks ugly. We have to look at the bigger perspective and be brave. When it arrives at market, it has to be right. Bentley's brand identity will be very helpful."
Bentley clearly has high aspirations for its first electric model, but don't expect it to launch for a long time until current battery technology has evolved significantly. How long will that take? Bentley estimates it will take around five years for power density to increase or solid-state batteries to be introduced, meaning that Bentley's first production EV may not arrive until 2025 at the earliest.