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Why Bentley sees hybrid drivetrains differently than other automakers

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Ronan Glon/Digital Trends

A vast majority of automakers from all over the world are making large investments to bring hybrid and plug-in hybrid models to the market in the coming years. Bentley is one of them, but it sees gasoline-electric cars differently than many of its peers.

Bentley boss Wolfgang Dürheimer confirmed on the sidelines of the Detroit Auto Show that the company will introduce a plug-in hybrid version of every single car in its lineup. The company is under pressure to sell more efficient cars, and it needs to build models capable of traveling on electricity alone for short distances in order to satisfy buyers in big European and Asian cities. Several mayors are considering banning gasoline- and diesel-powered cars from city centers in the coming years to curb pollution.

Most automakers consider hybrid models as a temporary way to reduce emissions until motorists shift to battery-powered cars. Bentley, however, believes hybrids represent the ideal compromise between gasoline-powered engines and electric vehicles.

“PHEV sometimes is mentioned as a transitional technology — it will be out of our way pretty soon. From my point of view, plug-in hybrid technology provides the best of two worlds,” explained Dürheimer in an interview with industry trade journal Automotive News.

He explained that plug-in hybrid cars deliver the zero-emissions driving that local and federal governments are increasingly mandating without compromising range. Many Bentley owners take their cars on long trips, so a pure electric vehicle isn’t practical for them. The average Bentley customer doesn’t want to stop for 30 minutes — if not more — every time the car’s battery pack runs low.

Bentley’s first-ever hybrid model will be the Bentayga. The gas-electric SUV is expected to make its debut next year, and it will go on sale globally shortly after. Technical specifications haven’t been released yet. It will be closely followed by a plug-in version of the next Continental GT that we expect to see before the end of the year. The drivetrain will be built around a V6 engine but it will deliver as much power as the current, V8-powered model.

Buyers who aren’t ready to go hybrid will still have the option of ordering the coupe with an eight- or a 12-cylinder engine under the hood.