Bentley is struggling with the switch to all-electric power.
The current Bentley Mulsanne is powered by a charismatic 6.75-liter twin-turbo V8 engine. In the top-of-the-line Speed version, this engine produces 530 hp and 811 lb-ft of torque. This engine is one of the torquiest power-plants that money can buy, but that may not help save it in the future. Stringent global emissions standards have caused Bentley to skip right past hybrid drivetrains to consider an all-electric drivetrain for the Muslanne. Of course, the number one factor for this decision is Bentley's desire to sell cars to China. So, what else is new?
Hans Holzgartner, product and marketing manager for the Mulsanne, said that "at the moment, the indication is that full electric will be the only way that you'll get into some of the cities in China." Amazingly, even hybrids aren't efficient enough to meet certain Chinese regulations. Holzgartner thinks that an electric drivetrain would still match the driving characteristics of the Muslanne, which is all about smooth, bottom-end torque. He said that "our challenge is to make something that's as interesting to drive as a current Bentley because while a Mulsanne will be driven in almost silent mode even with a petrol engine, if you've got a Mulsanne Speed you'll want to let rip every so often."
Basically, Holzgartner summed it up by saying that the challenge is "creating something that can be fun as well." Bentley wants desperately to sell its cars in China, but doing so requires meeting strict emissions standards. An electric drivetrain could solve these issues, but Bentley executives won't compromise the "character" of the car. We respect Bentley's decision. Bentley won't just replace the V8 unless it can ensure that an EV drivetrain can be just as fun. Why can't all manufacturers be this cool?