But the successor, fully-electric or not, isn’t expected until the early 2020’s
Bentley’s next-generation Mulsanne could go fully-electric and replace the current 6.75-litre V8 gas engine, according to a recent report, sourced by InsideEVs.
Although this isn’t the first time that a fully-electric version of the flagship saloon model has been discussed, Bentley’s consideration of a battery powered EV could be its attempt to keep up with the change expected in the luxury car market in coming years.
Mulsanne product and marketing manager Hans Holzgartner already discussed the possibility of an electric powertrain back in a 2016 interview with Autocar, and cited the Chinese market trends for the reasoning behind this. He believes the V8 engine is unsustainable for the future models:
“At the moment, the indication is that full electric will be the only way that you’ll get into some of the cities in China,” he said. “I wouldn’t say we’re discounting [hybrid engines] completely, but it looks like if you don’t have a full electric drive, even some of the hybrid drives just won’t get into some cities in China.”
Although this interview is two years old, Holzgartner citing Chinese legislation to push EVs as a motivation to produce a fully-electric vehicle is understandable – and a move being seen with many automakers.
A recent study conducted by Transport & Environment found that European car makers invest seven times more in EV production in China than in Europe. This large disparity is attributed to Chinese legislation and mandates, including its recent clean vehicle policy, in an attempt to encourage production that follows market changes – a move that has obviously proved vastly successful.
Although there is limited information on the future next-generation Mulsanne, production is thought to begin sometime in the early 2020’s with the hope of the model being the brands flagship.
The British automaker, in comparison to other luxury brands, so far has been slow to adapt to the ever-growing EV market – although they did showcase the Bentayga Hybrid at the Geneva Motor Show a few months ago. While there is no information on the plug-in electric powertrain yet, the hybrid is expected to launch in ‘selected’, so far undisclosed, markets by the end of 2018.
The successor Mulsanne model isn’t expected for at least a few more years, so Bentley has given themselves plenty of time to decide whether it will become the first fully-electric model in its range, or follow the example of the Bentayga Hybrid.
However, taking into consideration this new report and comments made by Holzganter in previous interviews, it is likely the model will be the first-fully electric Bentley. The move, most likely heavily influenced by the Chinese market, would be an important step towards adapting the luxury Bentley range to the growing demand for EVs from customers and governing bodies looking to a zero-emission future.