With a brand-new type of technology.
The 2020 Bentley Bentayga Hybrid is the closest thing the UK automaker has to an electric car right now, but the company has already promised that a full EV will come later this decade. Bentley says it won't be rushed, though, as it wants battery technology to improve on range and sustainability. To that end, Bentley Motors has just announced a three-year research study to create a more sustainable electric powertrain.
Bentley is calling the study OCTOPUS (Optimized Components, Test and simulatiOn, toolkits for Powertrains which integrate Ultra high-speed motor Solutions). Yes, that acronym is a major stretch and will be impossible to remember, but it has significant implications for the timeline of Bentley's first EV.
The OCTOPUS study follows an 18-month investigation that delivered a groundbreaking electric drive system with a magnet e-axle, which is free from rare-earth magnets and copper winding. This design helps the e-axle to be more cost-effective and recyclable at the end of its life. Bentley says OCTOPUS will focus on adding next-generation materials, manufacturing processes, simulation, and test cycles to the e-axle to create a fully electric drivetrain that will go in a production car as early as 2026.
"We have made no secret of our ambition to lead the way in the delivery of sustainable luxury mobility, Beyond100. We have a clear roadmap to offer a hybrid option for every model by 2023, starting with the Bentayga Hybrid, and our next goal moves towards a fully electric Bentley by 2026," said Stefan Fischer, Director of Powertrain Engineering at Bentley Motors.
"However today, there remains challenges and package constraints on the viability and flexibility of electric vehicle powertrains that are able to fully support EV architectures. With the industry, technologies, and cars changing faster than ever before, research projects such as OCTOPUS are crucial to deliver innovative technologies and overcome challenges for the next generation of mobility solutions," Fischer added.
The Volkswagen Group, which owns Bentley, already produces an EV platform used on the Porsche Taycan and upcoming Audi e-tron GT. But Bentley says its first EV will be even more dynamic looking, like the EXP 100 GT Concept (pictured above). As a reminder, the EXP 100 GT is powered by four electric motors producing 1,340 horsepower and 1,100 lb-ft of torque, so Bentley's first EV should be an impressive performer.