Carmakers like Bentley don’t really need to worry about meeting emissions standards or fuel economy quotas; any penalties they have to pay simply get worked into the exorbitant price of their exclusive vehicles. Like other automakers, Bentley has noticed that green luxury cars are in vogue, and their upcoming SUV model will gain a plug-in hybrid model a year after launch.
Bentley Chairman Wolfgang Schreiber, was quoted by AutoExpress as saying: “The SUV will be the first Bentley hybrid because it’s based on a new platform with new technology. You need space for batteries and the technology, so we probably won’t do that for existing models. We will see hybrid versions of all of our cars, though.”
Level all the criticism you want at Bentley, but it seems like they’re going about it right. Using the Bentley SUV as a launch platform for their hybrid technology, Bentley can build the necessary components, like space for a large battery bank, right into the design. The Bentley SUV is set to debut sometime in 2016, and a plug-in hybrid model is scheduled to follow in 2017. Eventually, all Bentleys will offer a hybrid version, a sign of the times I suppose.
Luxury sport SUVs have become increasingly popular, with cars like the Porsche Cayenne making up a huge chunk of the one-time sports car maker’s annual sales. Bentley wants to increase sales 80% by 2018, having set a record year in 2013 with more than 10,000 coupes, convertibles, and sedans sold. Bentley hopes its SUV can account for 3,000 additional annual sales alone, and a plug-in hybrid model could help it reach that goal.
As part of the Volkswagen group, Bentley can dip into a huge parts pin that includes parts from Lamborghini, Audi, and of course Vdub itself. One possible drivetrain I’d love to see in a Bentley SUV comes from the recent Audi Sport Quattro concept. Using a twin-turbo V8 and a pair of electric motors to produce 700 horsepower, the Sport Quattro concept can go up to 30 miles on electricity alone and returns 94 MPG.
Now put that in something with the plush opulence of a Bentley SUV, and you’ve got a car basketball players and oil barons alike can get behind that lets them pat their own back for the eco-friendly car choice they made.