Jeeves Learns to Plug-in As Bentley Resigns To Building A Plug-in Hybrid

Talk about luxury British cars, and the chances are the name Bentley will come up in the conversation. Traditionally, Bentleys have always focused on luxury, opulence and a never-wavering ability to retain decorum even when travelling quickly. Not environmentally-responsible motoring.

A Bentley which plugs in... to its own gold-inlaid station.

A Bentley which plugs in… to its own gold-inlaid station.

As of 2017, Bentley will add zero emissions capability to that list too. Like other luxury brands however, we get the distinct impression it is doing so because it has to… rather than because it wants to.

Announced this morning, Bentley will be debuting a Plug-in hybrid concept at the Beijing International Auto Show later this month which it claims will reduce tailpipe emissions by 70 percent.  Interestingly, while the car itself is a plug-in hybrid, Bentley has chosen to simply call it the “Hybrid Concept.”

Bentley’s luxury plug-in concept car — which it calls a “technology showcase” appears to feature the same 6.75-litre V-8 engine found in the Bentley Mulsanne. That’s probably because the car itself appears to be based on the same car. As our friends over at GreenCarReports note however, any production-spec version of a plug-in hybrid Bentley is likely to use the same 3.0-litre supercharged V-6 engine found in cars like the Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid Plug-in.

Since both Porsche and Bentley are part of the Volkswagen group, we have to agree: while the plug-in hybrid drivetrain reserved for cars like the soon-to-launch Volkswagen GTE plug-in hybrid would simply be too small to power a Bentley along at anything approaching a fair clip, the Porsche’s beefier 333 horsepower V-6, married to a 70 kW electric motor should do rather nicely for any discerning Bentley owner.

Frustratingly, Bentley hasn’t detailed much about its Hybrid Concept, but has said that the car is expected to increase power output by 25 percent over its conventionally-fuelled models, and will manage an all-electric range of 50 km per charge. That’s just about enough to make it from the outskirts of London to the West end and back without burning a drop of fuel, but it also means that this particular car would be the first to be eligible to apply for congestion charge exemption.

Of course, Bentley isn’t the first luxury automaker to consider plug-in hybrids or fully-electric models among its lineup. A few years ago, Rolls Royce toured the world with its experimental 102EX, an all-electric Rolls Royce Phantom capable of a claimed 124 miles of range per charge of its massive 71 kilowatt-hour lithium battery pack.  Shortly after the tour ended, Rolls Royce announced it wouldn’t bring the super-luxury plug-in to market, but rumours more recently suggest the firm, like Bentley, is looking at plug-in hybrids as a way to meet ever-tightening global emissions standards.

That’s something which is apparent in today’s press release, with the quiet promise from Bentley that by the end of this decade, 90 percent of its range will be available as a plug-in hybrid.  Either that means we’re about to see an all-new car, or Bentley is planning to electrify its Continental GT, Flying Spur, Mulsanne and of course, its recently-announced SUV.

As for charging? We note that in its press release, Bentley very prominently displays the concept car getting a recharge at what appears to be a Bentley-branded luxury charging station. We’re not sure if it will cost extra.

It’s time to make sure Jeeves the Butler knows the difference between a Type 2 cable and a quick charge station, we think.


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