2021 Bentley Bentayga Hybrid by Mulliner

The first fully electric model to emerge from Bentley’s plan in moving away from internal combustion will be an SUV, reports Car Magazine, and will make use of the SSP platform to be used in the Artemis project by Audi, earmarked for use across the wider Volkswagen group, and will stand to benefit from being part of the platform’s development from the beginning.

“With our current cars, we had to get into the engineering largely after the platforms had been done. The difference now is that with the Artemis, we’re right in there at the beginning, helping define it. We’re not leading it, but we’re going to be a beneficiary of it,” said Bentley CEO Adrian Hallmark.

Development of this platform will be spearheaded by Audi, and there will be ‘closer synergies’ between Audi and Bentley in terms of electrification, said Hallmark. “But we will continue to have strong relationships with both Audi and Porsche, and we see this as an opportunity, not a risk,” the Bentley CEO said, also confirming the bodystyle of the British marque’s first EV – “If you’re not in SUVs, you’re nowhere.”

This will emerge in 2025, and although weight remains a concern, Bentley is seeing rapid evolution in battery power density, says Hallmark, and the luxury carmaker is dedicated to “making things lighter and more aerodynamic.” The characteristics of battery-electric powertrains are a right fit for Bentley, too, because they are quiet, effortless, high in torque and offer refined performance, Hallmark said.

The pure EV Bentley SUV will be preceded by PHEV versions of the Flying Spur and the Continental GT

Building an electric vehicle will change the way Bentley makes cars, the CEO explained, as the manufacturer tend to start with a design that’s unfeasible, and then find ways to build it.

“With EVs, you have to do it the other way around. Look at the Jaguar I-Pace; it was designed around the battery. That gave the wheelbase, and the height to get the occupants in,” he said. Aerodynamics was the next deciding factor, and styling came in last, Hallmark noted. “As we move into EVs we’re not going to throw away our brand DNA, but we have to reinterpret it and be a bit more progressive.”

Hallmark is proud of Bentley’s first generation of its new era that was launched with the 6.0 litre W12 engine, which has led the Crew marque to selling more 12-cylinder cars than any other car company, the Bentley CEO said.

This demand is changing, however, and 39% of Bentley owners were noted as considering a battery-electric vehicle as their next car, he said. This shift in customer demand will add to the electric vehicle push by automakers such as Bentley, who will be rolling out the pure EV model after a plug-in hybrid Flying Spur later this year, as well as a possible PHEV Continental GT, according to Car Magazine.

GALLERY: Bentley Bentayga Hybrid by Mulliner