WOLFSBURG -- Bentley is considering launching its first full-electric vehicle to help reduce its fleet CO2 emissions as lawmakers throughout the world introduce stricter reduction targets.
If approved, the EV would be launched before 2025 on a platform under development by Volkswagen Group sister brands Porsche and Audi.
Bentley has amongst the highest carbon footprints of any brand at the group due to its reliance on heavy sedans and the Bentayga large SUV.
So far, the automaker has only considered plug-in hybrids as a response to more stringent CO2 emission limits.
Bentley may use an EV architecture currently under development by Porsche and Audi called Premium Platform Electric. The platform is expected to underpin a new generation of performance cars starting 2021 with faster acceleration, higher top speeds and quicker recharging times. By teaming up with Audi, Porsche estimates it will save costs by 30 percent.
Bentley CEO Adrian Hallmark said the brand faces a decision within around a year over developing a full-electric vehicle that it hopes could be available by mid-way through the next decade. "When is the first full-electric Bentley? That is currently in the decision process, but our target is definitely before 2025," Hallmark told Reuters.
VW Group finance chief Frank Witter said electrification is an important issue for Bentley and the brand's alignment with Porsche as part of the group's superpremium business unit could help.
A key aspect under discussion is whether Bentley can potentially borrow the PPE electric vehicle platform for luxury vehicles," Witter told reporters at VW Group's earnings call here Tuesday.
Bentley showcased its first all-electric concept with the EXP 12 Speed 6e at the Geneva auto show last March. A month later, Porsche and Audi announced the PPE cooperation.
Porsche is assuming the responsibility of coordinating its business with that of Bentley, for whom it already offers financial services.
137 million euros loss
Bentley had a 57 million euros operating loss during the third quarter, bringing the total loss in the first nine months to 137 million euros.
The loss was due in large part to continued delays in ramping up production of the new Continental GT, based on VW Group's MSB platform for rear-wheel drive cars developed by Porsche. One of the complications stemmed from adapting the Porsche double clutch system for Bentley customers, reports have said.
"It's very important for us that there are no compromises whatsoever in the quality, so the ramp up has been slower than we might have wished since the product wasn't mature enough yet," Witter said.
Asked about the brand's model strategy in general, Witter said Bentley overall "isn't positioned all that badly in terms of the breadth of its model lines."
Reuters contributed to this report.