Even a 100-year-old automaker like Bentley needs to get with the times. The British luxury brand is known for its adherence to tradition — it still uses an engine based on a 1950s design — but it will soon take a big step toward the future.
“We will bring out hybrid versions of all of our models by 2023,” Chris Craft, Bentley board member for sales and marketing, confirmed to Digital Trends and other assembled media at a Bentley test-drive event. Craft also said that Bentley will launch its first all-electric production model in 2025.
The move is partly a response to customer demand, Craft said. He said 30% of luxury buyers are interested in electric cars. But stricter global emissions standards likely played a part in the decision as well. The United Kingdom discussed ending sales of new internal-combustion cars by 2040, meaning Bentley may need to go electric just to keep selling cars in its home country.
The first electrified Bentley will be the Bentayga Hybrid, which launches in the United States later this year. This greener version of Bentley’s SUV is actually a plug-in hybrid, although Bentley chose to omit “plug-in” from the name. The powertrain consists of a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 and an electric motor, which is wedged between the gasoline engine and the transmission. Craft did not say whether this powertrain would be used in other Bentley hybrid models. He also didn’t offer any details on Bentley’s first electric car, due two years after the rest of the lineup goes hybrid.
Bentley’s electrification plans keep it in step with the rest of the Volkswagen Group. By 2028, VW plans to launch 70 electric cars from multiple brands globally, although not all of them will be sold in the U.S. By 2040, the German automotive behemoth expects electric cars to make up 60% of its U.S. sales, with hybrids accounting for an additional 10% to 25% of sales. Among other high-end VW Group brands, Porsche has plenty of experience with plug-in hybrids, will soon launch its all-electric Taycan. Audi recently launched its E-Tron electric SUV, and plans to follow that up with additional all-electric models.