Bentley has committed £2.5 billion to sustainability investments over the next 10 years and has also secured a UK production site for its first-ever battery-powered electric vehicle, which – according to an interview that Bentley Chairman and CEO Adrian Hallmark gave to the UK’s Car magazine, will be an electric SUV built on the VW’s group’s Artemis electric vehicle platform.
Why an SUV? Hallmark’s a fan of the style, who was quoted in Robb Report saying, “If you’re not in SUVs, you’re nowhere.”
As for the timing, “2025 is the right time for us,’ says Hallmark. “Weight is a concern. But we’re seeing rapid evolution in battery power density, and we’re dedicated to making things lighter and more aerodynamic. And battery-electric vehicles are right for Bentley; quiet, effortless, high torque, refined performance … We tend to start with a design that’s unbuildable, then work out how to build it,” laughs Hallmark. “With EVs (other companies) do it the other way around. Look at the [Jaguar] i-Pace. It was designed around the battery. That gave the width and the wheelbase, and the height to get the occupants in … styling was last. As (Bentley moves) into EVs we’re not going to throw away our brand DNA. But we have to reinterpret it and be a bit more progressive.”
Bentley History at Crewe
All of Bentley’s models have historically been built or finished at Crewe, where Bentley notes that it has 4,000 employees working at its storied factory. The first new Bentley electric vehicle is slated to roll off of the production line as a 2025 model – a critical step in the company’s “Beyond100” strategy, which it announced in 2020.
Beyond100 aims to ensure that the Bentley brand becomes exclusively electric and end-to-end carbon neutral by 2030, as it builds up to a purely electric range of product offerings by 2030.
The investment will also help the company transform its entire product portfolio and the Crewe Campus by adding a greenfield facility into its manufacturing facility. Bentley CEO Hallmark spoke of the Beyond100 plan, the company’s history, and the plan to become the benchmark for luxury, sustainable cars, and its entire operations, saying, “Beyond100 is the boldest plan in Bentley’s illustrious history, and in the luxury segment. It’s an ambitious and credible roadmap to carbon neutrality of our total business system, including the shift to 100 percent BEV in just eight years … Our aim is to become the benchmark not just for luxury cars or sustainable credentials but the entire scope of our operations. Securing production of our first BEV in Crewe is a milestone moment for Bentley, and the UK, as we plan for a long-term sustainable future in Crewe.”
Peter Bosch, Board Member for Manufacturing at Bentley Motors, seems to share Hallmark’s enthusiasm about the VW group’s investment. “Today is arguably the most important day in Bentley’s modern history and is a testament to the hard work and skill of our colleagues in Crewe. The journey really does start now. We are already marking the pinnacle in luxury car production and have already transformed our factory to become carbon neutral, with industry-leading environmental credentials. With our new ‘Dream Factory’ concept …
… we now go to zero also with water, waste, and other environmental impacts until 2030. Unique craftsmanship, customer interaction, and employee experience will be enhanced by digital tech, higher flexibility, and new ways of personalization. We will develop the best of Crewe into the future benchmark of luxury car manufacturing.”
With solid investments in the company coming off the heels of a nearly record-setting year of sales and profits for Bentley in 2021, the future certainly looks bright for the historic British car brand.
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