First Bentley electric car is an SUV based on Audi Artemis [Update]

The first Bentley EV arriving in 2025 will be an electric SUV and is being developed concurrently with the Audi Artemis (project name) that is scheduled to premiere in late 2024. Adrian Hallmark, CEO, Bentley, speaking to CAR Magazine, suggested that there won’t be a considerable time gap between the premieres of the Audi Landjet and the Bentley electric SUV.

“With our current cars, we had to get into the engineering largely after they (the platforms) had been done,” CAR Magazine quoted Hallmark saying in a recent report. “The difference now is that with Artemis we’re right in there at the beginning, helping define it. We’re not leading it, but we’re going to be a beneficiary of it,” he added.

The Artemis project has witnessed changes since last year. The VW Group has announced that Artemis (to launch in the market in 2025) would use significant SSP modules for the first time. The SSP Platform is the next-generation platform that is to follow the PPE, and will become the common EV platform for the whole VW Group from 2026.

The first Bentley electric car has been all but confirmed to be a high-riding model. Asked if it would be an SUV, Hallmark replied:

If you’re not in SUVs, you’re nowhere.

Adrian Hallmark, CEO, Bentley, on the style of the firm’s first BEV

Bentley electric car platform

SSP will be the basis for the Audi Artemis model, (also referred to as the Audi Landjet). SSP should allow equally, if not better, specifications than the upcoming PPE platform, for the benefit of the Bentley SUV.

For reference, the PPE platform’s state of charge is 800 volts, enabling rapid charging at 350 kW. The company revealed in its annual report for 2020 that PPE cars can deliver a range of up to 600 km or 373 miles and that there’s room to improve in this aspect.

According to an April 2020 report from Autocar, Bentley has started working on a concept for its first EV. The company has been selling an SUV since 2016 – the Bentayga – but it’s traditionally been the go-to brand for luxury sedans and grand tourers.

Aerodynamic and light-weight

Hallmark’s previous statements suggest that the Bentley electric SUV might not be a typical shape like the Bentayga. “We need to be looking at how we can deliver slippier cars with a profile that gets the most out of it aerodynamically,” Hallmark told Autocar this year. Like the Audi Landjet, it could blend two body styles.

The high ground clearance would allow Bentley to safely package batteries on the car’s floor and make the model appealing for a wide range of customers. Genesis is attempting a similar design with the Genesis GV60 at a lower end of the market. Speaking of batteries, they would be a more advanced version of the present day’s Lithium-ion.

350-400 miles of range

Speaking to Autocar, Hallmark suggested that launching a Bentley electric car with a smaller body compared to today’s models isn’t an appealing solution for achieving a high range, as customers would see it as a lower price segment product. He hinted that the high-riding all-electric Bentley would have a range of 300-350 miles. Aerodynamics and weight reduction would be focal points of the project.

The prediction is battery technology will have moved forward again by that date and that will put us at the edge of what we think we need to give customers: 300-350 miles of range, or enough to cruise at a 65 mph average for five hours.

Adrian Hallmark, CEO, Bentley (Autocar report in April 2020)

The above talks happened in 2020. This year, with Volkswagen Group’s intensified electrification plans and Daimler’s ultra-long-range EQ EVs beginning to generate high customer expectations, maybe Bentley is rethinking the range aspect.

Citing Hallmark, a report from Auto Express in July 2021 suggested that the first Bentley EV is likely to come with one of Volkswagen Group’s largest battery packs, if not the largest. The energy content is likely to be between 115 and 130 kWh, enough to conquer a range of about 400 miles (WLTP) with even a large SUV.

Seeing where Daimler is heading with the Mercedes EQS SUV due in 2022, a 400-mile (WLTP) range is a realistic expectation from an aerodynamic (high-end variant) Bentley electric SUV due in 2025. The Mercedes-Maybach EQS SUV, which will rival the Bentley electric SUV, would have similar specifications.

Cell and battery technologies would improve greatly regarding efficiency and weight in the next four years as companies are pumping billions of dollars into R&D. Hallmark is expecting the energy density will improve by the time Bentley releases its first EV.

For Bentley to jump too early into BEVs, before you get to 115-130 kWh of energy in a credible size and mass, makes no sense. We know existing battery providers will see step-ups of 30% in energy density by the middle of the decade.

Adrian Hallmark, CEO, Bentley (Auto Express report in July 2021)

Switchover to EVs by 2030

Dr. Herbert Diess, the CEO of the Volkswagen Group, suggested at the Volkswagen Group New Auto strategy announcement that Audi and Bentley will have close ties in the EV era. He said:

Now in control of Bentley, Audi will use this technology to build the most sophisticated luxurious Bentley thereby entering segments that haven’t been accessible to the Audi brand before. Bundling Bentley’s all-electric luxury car portfolio with Lamborghini and Ducati in the Audi Premium Group will further leverage all possible synergies in premium.

Dr. Herbert Diess, CEO, Volkswagen Group (Volkswagen Group New Auto strategy)

Bentley has already committed to offering a hybrid powertrain option across the range by 2023. In November 2020, it said that from 2026, a year after it launches its first EV, which it calls the “first cradle to grave fully carbon-neutral car,” it will sell only PHEVs and BEVs. By 2030, it will migrate 100% to electric vehicles.

Featured image: Bentley Bentayga PHEV (Bentley Media)