Bentley Motors has yet to release its first fully electric vehicle. But according to Global CEO and Chairman Adrian Hallmark, it’s not stopping the company from becoming the most sustainable luxury automaker in the world.
The world’s premiere luxury car brand showcased the Bentayga Hybrid and the Flying Spur Hybrid at Monterey Car Week last month. According to Hallmark, its a taste of what’s to come. For Bentley, like its luxury cars, building the sustainable road map takes time.
It announced its first electric car concept in 2017—the EXP 12 Speed 6e. That was followed by the debut of the 2018 Bentayga Hybrid—a milestone vehicle in the luxury market. That same year, it released another electric concept car, the EXP 100 GT, in order to mark its 100th anniversary.
While its first electric vehicle isn’t expected until 2025, Bentley has been consistent with its roadmap. As far back as 2018 it was detailing what technology was in the works, and how the luxury brand aims to change the car industry.
In 2019, Bentley hit another milestone—its Crewe, England, factory became the very first carbon-neutral luxury automobile factory in the UK.
Bentley has widened its sustainability dashboard, with plans to reduce rare-earth minerals necessary for current electric car batteries. It’s also working to replace copper wire as copper mining is damaging to the environment.
Part of its strategy in anticipating the necessary changes to the EV luxury market was to join a nine-part consortium developing new, low-impact technology that the company says will underpin a new generation of electric vehicles.
The sustainable road forward
“Every car will be hybridized. Already the Bentayga and the Flying Spur are and they represent about 65% of our sales. So we’ve already got good coverage of the portfolio,” Hallmark says. “By 2023, we will only offer hybrids. By 2025, we’ll offer our first full-battery electric vehicle as well. And then by 2030, only battery electric vehicles. This is a radical change, but it’s nine years — it’s not nine months.”
The company is also behind the OCTOPUS research project. That stands for Optimised Components, Test and simulation, toolkits for Powertrains which integrate Ultra high-speed motor Solutions—and it’s as weighty as it sounds. The project is working to create a truly recyclable powertrain—something even Tesla hasn’t achieved yet. Bentley says it’s aiming to have this by the time it launches its first EV in 2025.
OCTOPUS is a critical step in the development of sustainable cars, says Bentley. With regulations restricting fossil-fuel-powered vehicles, making EVs the best they can be, both for the consumer and the planet, is imperative. Otherwise, what’s the point?
“People still love the comfort and the elegance and the refinement. They don’t want a sports car or a pure sports sedan,” Hallmark told Entrepreneur. “But they do like the idea of 207 miles per hour, 626 horsepower, four-wheel drive, and the craftsmanship that nobody else can beat. When you put all that together, and you drive it every day, these people feel like they’re on another planet.”
A new luxury market
These same people also favor EVs. According to Hallmark, interest is skyrocketing, too—more than 58 percent of its current and potential customers say they would likely want a Bentley EV within the next five years. And that’s good news for the brand that’s already hit record profitability—even in the aftermath of the pandemic.
“Somebody once said to me, ‘Imagining the future is easy, but managing the transition is tough.’ There will not be a binary change. We won’t go from all engines to all electric overnight,” he explains. “We see this transition as being the key. It’s a dangerous period. But we’ve got security … the technology is there. So we’re confident.”
Sustainability isn’t just about the cars themselves, though. It’s about the company as a whole, according to CEO of Bentley Americas, Christophe Georges.
“It’s about great values—diversity, inclusion, supportive communities. It’s about sustaining the skills we have in our factories, craftsmanship skills, creating substance on the back of luxury—this is our DNA. [It’s about] sustainability in the wider sense,” he told Entrepreneur.
“We really want to create a positive impact, not only in terms of carbon emission, but in terms of values and making the world a little bit better as well.”