Bentley might be better known for its fast, powerful, luxury cars typically owned by celebrities, sports stars and business moguls -- but that doesn’t mean it can’t be environmentally responsible too.
That’s the message being given by company CEO Wolfgang Dürheimer as the firm looks towards its future in an industry increasingly occupied with fuel efficiency and environmental responsibility.
Further confirming what we already knew about Bentley's future eco-car plans, Dürheimer gave more details to Car and Driver earlier this month at the 2011 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, making it clear that with the right technology from sister company Volkswagen, Bentley could adopt both plug-in hybrids and diesel engines for select markets.
“It might be wise to... also do hybrids,” Dürheimer said. “ We’re lucky we are involved in a group that has technology in every corner. Every single technology that is available to the group is available to us. We will jump over the first generation of hybrids and start with the plug-in hybrids”
But while we’re pleased to see Bentley is embracing the technology, its initial cars won’t be able to travel very far on battery power alone.
“I think 25 to 30 km [16 to 19 miles] is good,” Dürheimer said when questioned about the potential electric-only range of a Bentley plug-in hybrid. “Maybe in 20 years we will cover 100 km [62 miles]. For the time being, we won’t because nobody can afford the batteries and nobody wants to carry them around.”
2009 Bentley Continental Supersports Biofuel
A plug-in hybrid drivetrain isn’t the only thing Bentley is examining for future cars though -- Dürheimer admitted that diesel engines are also high on Bentley’s future power-plant list.
“I wouldn’t reject diesel,” he said. “If you look at the torque curve of the 6.75-liter V-8, this is what we can have on [the diesel] side as well. If the new-generation diesels make no smoke, no noise, this matches perfectly with the demands of a Bentley, so why shouldn’t we take it?”
Given Volkswagen’s position as a leader in diesel engine technology, we’re inclined to agree, but will either technology actually see itself -- or a combination of both -- powering a Bentley in the near future?
Don’t be so sure. While Bentley is keen on greening its image, it is also keen on keeping its affluent customers happy with the same W-12 engine it used to give the Continental GT such impressive performance.
“I think it will become one of the cornerstones in the brand profile,” Dürheimer predicted. “Besides, a 12-cylinder engine is a sexy engine. It’s good to offer our customers the dedication.”
In the past Bentley has offered E-85 powered cars -- but do you think Bentley make the switch towards a Plug-in drivetrain, or perhaps a plug-in diesel drivetrain? Let us know in the Comments below.