Bentley will offer a plug-in hybrid version of 90% of the cars on its range as early as 2018, the company's CEO has confirmed.
Speaking at the debut of the Mulsanne Hybrid Concept at the Beijing motor show, Dr Wolfgang Schreiber announced that a plug-in hybrid option was ‘the right choice for the future of Bentley’.
He also confirmed that the first production-spec Bentley with a part-electric powertrain will be the marque's controversial new SUV. The upcoming 4x4 was previewed by 2011's EXP 9F concept car, and will be released (with dramatically revised looks) in 2015.
Is Bentley just adding a token electric motor to seem 'on trend'?
Not according to the company's boss. Schreiber bullishly argued: ‘This is part of Bentley’s future to offer higher efficiency with no compromise in luxury. It will reaffirm Bentley’s position as the world’s leading manufacturer of high-luxury vehicles’. Rolls-Royce might have a word or two to say about that.
How good is Bentley's hybrid tech?
Good enough to make even the Mulsanne limousine look green. Detailed figures are still under wraps, but Bentley claims the system makes the Mulsanne emit 75% less CO2 than a non-hybrid version, and adds 25% more power. The hybrid concept, incidentally, retains the standard Mulsanne’s antiquated 6.75-litre naturally aspirated petrol-fired V8 engine.
Taking Bentley’s maths at face value, that’d push the Mulsanne’s output from 505bhp to more than 630bhp, and drop average CO2 emissions from a filthy 393g/km to a hot hatch-shaming 120g/km. All according to the New European Driving Cycle official lab tests, you understand...
And if I’m not convinced?
Granted, electro-hybrids are aimed more at the Chinese and US markets. For European Bentley buyers, the prospect of a diesel-powered range is more intriguing.
The forthcoming SUV is expected to offer a twin-turbodiesel V8 version, and that powertrain (potentially with hybrid tech also) could be deployed in the Flying Spur and Bentley’s future entry-level four-door coupe.
>> Click here for CAR’s complete scoop on the future of Bentley