The 2025 launch date must be met.
It's no secret Bentley will launch its first-ever electric vehicle in 2025. The UK automaker has already gone on record with this. But a major question that remained unanswered was: which body style will be chosen? Will the EV be an SUV? A sedan? Or even a two-door GT? It now appears we have our answer.
Autocar spoke to Bentley CEO Adrian Hallmark and the EV's body style identity was revealed: a sedan with a raised ride height. This allows for better accommodation of the massive floor-mounted battery pack without having to sacrifice aerodynamics which in turn reduces range. A station wagon or shooting brake was out of the question, leaving a sedan as the best option. It's also possible we could see a fastback design similar to that of the Audi A7, but Bentley has yet to make a final decision on that.
"If we're to launch an electric car in the mid-2020s, then it either needs to be smaller than today's cars or the same size but not as upright, and smaller isn't an appealing solution, as it implies a lower price segment," said Hallmark. "We need to be looking at how we can deliver slippier cars with a profile that gets the most out of it aerodynamically in order to deliver on that promise."
Last year's EXP 100 GT concept might turn out to be an early design preview of what Bentley has in mind, but that vehicle was a grand touring coupe with a normal ride height. In other words, Bentley is about to enter some uncharted territory not only with an all-electric powertrain but also with the body style. Will long-time Bentley buyers find this favorable? Will it attract new customers? It's vital for it to do both.
Meanwhile, Hallmark also reconfirmed that its famous W12 engine is on its way out, though no specific time frame was given. "For 100 years, we've tried to make engines bigger and more powerful. For the next 10 years, we're going to try to make them disappear," he said.
Bentley also hopes to become a leader in the VW Group in advanced battery or electrical architecture development, and this so far unnamed EV could help make that happen. Of course, there's already the Porsche Taycan and upcoming Audi e-tron GT, but this Bentley will have to offer something extra special beyond luxury over those already very impressive sedans. The answer will arrive in five years' time.