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

The first Bentley EV 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 2020. Volkswagen 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 foundation 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 and 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 270 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 in the SSP era.

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.

Wireless charging

Luxury EV customers might not want to deal with the fuss of charging cables. This could be a problem to a greater degree for an exotic brand like Bentley. The company may offer wireless EV charging support to address this issue, Hallmark suggested. The brand boss was speaking about how EVs will become the new normal globally by 2030. He said (via Autocar):

It’s possible everywhere by then. Look at the rate of ramp-up (of charging infrastructure) on motorways and elsewhere: it’s extraordinary. And there will be innovations by then that help, too, such as inductive charging breakthroughs.

Adrian Hallmark, CEO, Bentley (Autocar report in October 2021)

Aerodynamic and light-weight

Hallmark’s previous statements are an indicator 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 Artemis, it could blend body styles, but would have tall sides.

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 has attempted a similar design with the Genesis GV60 at a lower end of the market.

350-400 miles of range (Revised target)

Speaking to Autocar in April 2020, 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)

This year, with Volkswagen Group’s intensified electrification plans and Daimler’s ultra-long-range EQ EVs beginning to generate high customer expectations, Bentley will be 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 large 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) first Bentley electric SUV. The Mercedes-Maybach EQS SUV, which will rival the Bentley electric SUV, would have similar specifications.

Cell and battery technologies will improve greatly in efficiency and weight by 2025 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. Hyundai is predicting that it will move from a density of about 600 wh/L to around 750 wh/L by 2025.

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)

Bentley EV Release Date

The first Bentley EV will debut in 2025 and go on sale the same year. A report filed by autohome.com.cn in November suggests that China is also an important market for the car. The Chinese publication learned from Bentley officials that the company has scheduled the local launch of its first EV in 2025 and plans to make its entire line-up available in the country emissions-free 2030.

Volkswagen Group will likely manufacture the body of the Bentley EV at the same production site as the Audi Artemis – Hannover, Germany, Dr. Herbert Diess indicated at the company’s Supervisory Board meeting on December 9, 2021. The Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles factory will be responsible for the ID. Buzz, too.

Hannover would entirely change with the ID. Buzz. Launched next year, we are entering the BEV world. The most interesting German premium car, the Artemis, will be built in Hannover as well. In addition, we are expanding our body manufacturing for a new model of Bentley.

Dr. Herbert Diess, CEO, Volkswagen Group (Supervisory Board meeting on December 9, 2021)

Switchover to EVs by 2030

Dr. Diess 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 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 to 100% electric vehicles.

Featured image: Bentley Bentayga PHEV (Bentley Media)