All-electric Bentley EXP 12 Speed 6e convertible at Geneva 2017

Published: 07 March 2017

► Electric concept debuts at Geneva
► Inductive charging and 250 mile range
► Convertible take on Speed 6 concept

Even Bentley can’t escape the need for more efficient and alternative-fuelled vehicles which is why pride of place on its 2017 Geneva motor show stand is taken by this, the EXP 12 Speed 6e.

Ignore the clunky name for a moment, because behind the world’s longest badge are lots of hints about future production cars.

What do all those letters and numbers mean then?

I’m glad you asked. EXP is Bentley-speak (or Benter, if you like) for experimental - concept in other words - while the 12 indicates this is the twelfth concept car it’s produced, running all the way back to the EXP 1 in 1919.

Bentley EXP 12 Speed 6e at Geneva 2017

More importantly, Speed 6 means this is the second Bentley think-piece about a smaller, lighter and possibly less expensive car to sit below the Continental GT in the showroom, something it needs to attract younger buyers.

Last but most obviously, the ‘e’ stands for electric; Bentley is going greener.

What about the hardware?

It’s a little light on detail, but assurances have been made that even running on electric a production version of the 6e will still offer the strong blend of thrust, waft and civility that Bentley buyers demand.

Bentley EXP 12 Speed 6e at Geneva 2017

The concept also uses inductive charging, which would preclude the need for a well-dressed owner to be messing about with grubby cables.

The released info talks about travelling from London to Paris or Milan and Monaco on a single charge; that means a range of between 180 and 280 miles, which isn’t bad for a car like this.

Will the real thing look like this?

Let’s hope so.

Arguably prettier than the coupe Speed 6, the roofless look makes the most of the wide hips and deep aero channels along the flanks. The 6e logo in the grille illuminates when the car is running, but I wouldn’t expect that to make production…

Is it still fabulous on the inside too?

Err, yes and no. There’s a smattering of the usual future tech; a single piece of glass runs the length of the centre console and houses an OLED screen, while the yoke-like steering wheel also has glass controls for infotainment and telephone.

Bentley EXP 12 Speed 6e at Geneva 2017 - interior

There’s even copper elements woven around the gear selector as a nod to the powertrain.

As for the cabin’s colour scheme…Have you ever seen the video to Radiohead’s Karma Police?

Bentley EXP 12 Speed 6e at Geneva 2017 - interior

But still, a couple of the buttons have got a rocketship icon on them. And who doesn't want that inside their luxo-electric gin palace. Plus the dial pack appears to be paying homage to the Star Wars lightspeed motif.

When can I buy one then?

Patience, darling. Bentley kicks off its EV thing with a plug-in Bentayga next year, and we’ll see a conventionally powered Speed 6 before we get an electric version like this, so you’re looking at late-2018 at the earliest.

Best start digging up your garage floor and plumbing in that charging mat.

Click here for all the 2017 Geneva motor show coverage on CAR

By Matt Joy

Former associate editor of CAR magazine