But it won't do so at the expense of design.
Bentley Motors Limited isn't one for making sacrifices in design and engineering. In Bentley parlance, "entry-level" means a nearly $200,000 MSRP, so naturally, the brand's clientele has higher expectations than the average motorist. That's why Bentley has so far shied away from producing any pure-electric models, which come with a host of compromises from slow refueling times to limited driving range, to designs that suffer for their having to accommodate bulky lithium-ion batteries.
To that last point, new emerging battery technology could pose a solution, and according to Bentley CEO Adrian Hallmark, the luxury brand is very much interested. The marque isn't "guaranteed to go solid state," Hallmark recently told Automotive News Europe, "but that is already on the radar within that mid-2020s period."
The British luxury brand's first pure-electric vehicle is slated to arrive in 2025, by which point its parent company, Volkswagen, will have launched a number of new EVs under the new "ID." sub-brand. The Bentley EXP 100 GT - an electric concept car unveiled as the marque celebrated its 100th birthday - is so far our only indication of what Bentley's first EV might look like.
One of Bentley's concerns with regard to battery-electric vehicles as they exist today is the car's height, Hallmark says. "I think electric cars will be slightly higher because of where the batteries are now," he told Automotive News. "However, with new battery technologies, it will be possible to make cars that are lower," thanks to a higher volumetric power density.
Any EV that Bentley builds will have a "Bentley-sized [interior made] to Bentley's standards," Hallmark says. "You don't need as much overhang [on an EV], but that also doesn't mean we want to build a small car. We just don't want to waste space on the outside either. We see the battery-electric vehicle architecture as being a liberator of that potential."
Of course, solid-state battery technology is much newer than lithium-ion chemistry, and it will be several years before the first solid-state batteries start reaching volume production automobiles. To help accelerate their development, Bentley's parent Volkswagen in 2018 invested $100 million into solid-state battery startup QuantumScape. The company is aiming to have a solid-state battery production line operational by 2025.
Bentley Motor Limited is already planning to electrify its entire lineup by 2023, from the two-door Continental GT to the yacht-sized Mulsanne, and in 2018, Hallmark revealed that the next-generation Continental GT would offer a battery-electric powertrain.