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Bentley to switch from roaring 12-cylinder cars to electrics

November 5, 2020, 10:29 PM UTC

Bentley Motors will ax the roaring 12-cylinder combustion engines that shaped much of the British luxury-car maker’s 100-year history to focus on electric vehicles, the latest seismic automotive shift driven by stricter emissions rules.

Bentley will offer only hybrid and electric cars by 2026, and switch its entire lineup to fully-electric vehicles four years later, the Crewe, England-based manufacturer said Thursday in a statement.

The company will become “a new, sustainable, wholly ethical role model for luxury,” CEO Adrian Hallmark said.

Bentley’s accelerated transformation toward battery-powered vehicles is part of a $40 billion push by its German parent Volkswagen, which is developing the industry’s biggest lineup of electric cars as it seeks to challenge Tesla Inc.

For starters, Bentley will offer two plug-in hybrid models next year—the Bentayga Hybrid and the all-new Flying Spur Hybrid, according to Hallmark in a subsequent interview. The company had already announced that every model line will offer a hybrid version by 2023, with the company’s first fully-electric model to be introduced in 2025; everything will be developed in-house. The brand wants to make its operations carbon-neutral by 2030.

“As a luxury brand, our customers are more likely to have a home where they can charge a vehicle, an office where they can charge a vehicle, their favorite spots to go where they can charge a vehicle, and other cars so they don’t have to rely on electric vehicles if it doesn’t quite meet their routine needs,” says Hallmark.

“We are pushing to modernize and again reposition Bentley for a new generation,” he continues, pointing to the brand’s exponential growth in the early 2000s. “There will be not a slow progression toward electric cars, but an inflection point in the late ’20s when the infrastructure is there.”

Volkswagen already has rolled out the Porsche Taycan, the VW ID.3 and the Audi e-Tron models as part of its target to offer 75 electric cars by the end of the decade. The company’s CEO Herbert Diess told Bloomberg earlier Thursday about Bentley’s electric push.