Bentley To Be Fourth VW Group Brand To Offer Electric Car.

If an electric Audi is good, then an electric Audi plus an electric Volkswagen plus an electric Porsche plus an electric Bentley must be better, yes? At least, that would seem to be the thinking at VW Group, which over the last six months has announced plans for the first three brands to launch all-electric cars in 2018 or later. According to an article on the Australian site Drive.com, "A fully-electric Bentley will become part of the company's future product range." The word that Bentley was "studying" such a car came from Bentley's board member in charge of engineering, Rolf Frech, at a Palm Springs launch event for its massive new Bentayga SUV.

It remains unclear whether an electric Bentley would be a sporty coupe--along the lines of its foundational Continental GT, but perhaps even a two-seater--or a sleeker four-door sedan that would line up more closely against today's Tesla Model S. Still, the course seems set: "Of course electric will be a future strategy direction for Bentley," Frech told the site in an interview. An electric Bentley would likely share much of the underpinnings of Porsche's upcoming all-electric performance sedan, previewed last fall by the Mission E concept shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Frech confirmed as much, saying that the brand could draw on the Mission E platform but also bring a lot of its components into a future electric Bentley. If the British luxury brand chooses to go the coupe route, Frech hinted that such a car might resemble the two-seat Speed 6 concept shown last spring at the Geneva Motor Show. A four-seat coupe or a sedan would likely find more customers, but the two-seater would give Bentley a unique proposition in the expanding electric-car market until Tesla launches a new generation of its Roadster. While a new Roadster is on the California company's product plan, it would come only after the launch of the Model 3 mass-market Tesla, now supposed to go into production in late 2017 or early 2018. Meanwhile, Bentley will join not only Audi but the other German prestige brands in expanding plug-in hybrid options across its range of volume vehicles. The first such car, a plug-in version of the Bentayga SUV, is likely to arrive by the end of next year--based on the system used in the 2017 Audi Q7 e-tron. Bentley declined to specify whether its version would use the 3.0-liter V-6 TDI diesel in the European Q7 e-tron, the 3.0-liter V-6 gasoline engine expected for the U.S. version of that vehicle, or the more powerful V-8 shared by Bentley and Audi.

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