Bentley is in a tight spot. The ultra-luxury brand is in a balancing act of trying to appeal to its more traditional customer base without turning-off new buyers.
“[T]he two major demographic segments that we don’t currently sell to – the upper liberals and the post-moderns – account for 40 percent of high-net-worth individuals,” Bentley CEO Adrian Hallmark told Automotive News Europe, “and an [electric vehicle] is even more appealing to them.”
Rather than scooping up Bentleys, these consumers are instead buying Porsches and Teslas, according to Hallmark. Bentley, though, hopes the eventuality of its own electric-vehicle will eventually allow it to win over the “upper liberal” and “post-modern” crowds from its German and American competitors.
“We see full-electric cars as another growth opportunity in a five- to 10-year period,” Hallmark said.
Why the wait? Well, it doesn’t help that Hallmark claims a mere 40 percent of the brand’s current customers are interested in buying an EV. But more importantly, the CEO simply thinks the limited power-density of today’s battery packs means that any electric vehicle it creates will either lack a reasonable driving range or the physical size required of a Bentley product.
We’d argue the Tesla Model X – as well as the forthcoming Rivian R1T and R1S truck and SUV – is a sizeable product with an adequate driving range. Nevertheless, Bentley may be aiming to top 400 miles of range on a full charge with its forthcoming electric vehicle – the Model X only manages a maximum of 295 miles, according to the EPA.
Hopefully, we’ll learn more about the Bentley EV in the next few years. Until then, it seems the brand will just have to remain content with losing sales to Porsche and Tesla.