Bentley To Launch All-Electric SUV: What Does This Mean For Tesla?

Mar 02, 2017 12:00 AM EST | Andrew Davis

The future of Bentley smells more electric than anything else. Or does it? During an interview with an industry trade journal, the British company's CEO hinted that they plan to launch an SUV, just a slot lower than its iconic Bentley Bentayga. If this were to happen in the future, Tesla might have some square competition in the future.

It would seem that Bentley Motors is planning on hitting two birds with one stone, that is, the company's SUV lineup and its plans on unleashing an all-electric vehicle. But do they really have the means to do so? And will they be able to compete with a market that has been in a way governed by Tesla?

Automotive News first reported that during the international press launch of the Continental Supersports, Bentley CEO Wolfgang Dürheimer said: "I can assure you that Bentley - on the long term view - will not stay with one model only in the SUV lineup. We have clear indications that a smaller Bentayga as a Bentley SUV would find great acceptance."

Tesla currently is selling the Model X SUV and has plans to release a compact version of its SUV, Model Y, in the future. So, with Bentley eyeing the all-electric SUV market, it could mean that the demand for a luxury brand to produce an SUV might be rising.

But there is catch here. Since Bentley is owned by Volkswagen, they might have limited resources in releasing both an all-electric SUV and the EXP 10 Speed 6 concept, which debuted 2 years ago, as pointed out by Digital Trends.

So, the EXP10 Speed 6 concept might be sent to the scrapped department since resources might be limited. However, Rolf Frech, the company's Board Member for Engineering, said last year that he wasn't in a rush to decide whether to move forward with the development of a more hardcore, driver-focused coupe like the EXP 10 Speed 6.

But if Bentley does push through, the company might need to differentiate the all-electric SUV from its Bentayga. The solution, according to Frech, is to make a smaller one that is electric, so as to differentiate between the two SUVs.

"If you are looking for such a car [small SUV] then we are looking to that in combination with the possibilities to go full electric. It only makes sense if you get really new customers into the brand," added Frech.

Following VW's dieselgate scandal, going gasoline-free could take the company to a new segment and might win back their customers and gain some, thus expanding their market share. But we wouldn't see the all-electric SUV until 2020 or later, as confirmed by Bentley's execs.

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