Published on April 2nd, 2018 | by Nicolas Zart
April 2nd, 2018 by Nicolas Zart
The last time I saw a Rolls Royce or a Bentley on a lift, I marveled at the structure of its underpinning. Triangles hold the behemoth together and assure a certain level of stiffness with just enough flexibility. Unfortunately, an electric drivetrain in either a Rolls Royce or a Bentley is still something we’ve never seen — at least, so far. There are some promises this will change soon, though.
The Sophisticated, Quiet Elegance of An Electric Bentley
It was great to see the old, venerable Bentley introduce an electric concept not too long ago — we covered it here. That reminded us of another electric toe in the water from Bentley, a luxury plug-in vehicle (EV) based on the Porsche Mission E.
As to the question why the Mission E, it is because Bentley is also part of the Volkswagen fold. Mostly, such new platforms have to be amortized by getting sharing between companies owned by the parent company, in this case Volkswagen Group.
The best way to do this is to sell the new platform through the company’s luxury outlets. This allows the new technologies, such as new EV and autonomous vehicle (AV) platforms, to find their way down to the mass-manufactured market eventually.
In many ways, Bentley is the perfect fit for the next evolution of the Porsche Mission E. With its prestigious racing and luxury history, the company will be joined by another VW division, Audi. The Audi E-Tron GT & E-Tron Quattro will also share that platform.
The Bentley EXP 12 Speed 6e concept adds a touch of luxury for its own unique flavor of the same powertrain. Through a fairly broad range of products, VW hopes to corner more market segments and firmly establish its presence as a performance and luxury EV leader.
The brand’s design director, Stefan Sielaff, told Auto Express that, “A full electric Bentley is something I am extremely convinced we have to do. … The next step for sure is an electric, unique Bentley that isn’t based on an existing car but a completely fresh and new development, with electric propulsion and obviously different proportions following the function. … It gives us a great chance to establish a completely new design language for the company.”
The EXP 12 Speed 6e Concept was first seen at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show and was quite a sensation there. The two-seat electric sports car concept eventually morphed into the hard-top EXP 12 Speed 6 coupe we now have. Something Sielaff said really caught our attention — that it would be “unlikely to form the basis of the brand’s electric flagship.” That’s too bad. It seems as if Volkswagen Group finally has a platform that it can share between its automakers and turn a profit on faster than if every brand went it alone.
The Inescapable Luxury Segment For The Adoption Of EVs
In the end, it boils down to how efficiently to make a certain new technology available to everyone and tap that mass market where gigantic carmakers can start to make a profit. Using racing and appealing to the luxury segment is what has traditionally worked in adopting these technologies. Essentially, those two segments pay for the mass production and eventually trickle technology down to masses.
VW is playing on its portfolio in order to maximize its investments and returns. The Bentley EXP 12 Speed 6e Concept is the beginning of a future line of eventual EVs from the company that may see it finally move beyond its tainted diesel infamy.