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All-Electric Bentley Convertible Last-Minute Entry At Geneva Auto Show

Let's face it, automakers are anything but shy about discussing products. That's why it is especially interesting that Bentley showed its 6 EV high-performance soft-top electric concept in Geneva.

It looks like the Volkswagen Group is serious about its commitment to electric cars. It is occurring so quickly, in fact, that sometimes it seems its subsidiaries can’t keep up. As you may know, one of the washouts of Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal has been the automaker’s decision to produce 30 new electric vehicles by 2025.

The decision is company-wide and, in case you don’t know it, Bentley is part of the Volkswagen Group. So, it stands to reason that the luxury performance automaker is also on the hook for at least one electric model. However, unlike other parts of Volkswagen, which have discussed their advanced electric planning, the carmaker’s Bentley EXP 12 Speed 6e Concept, appeared quietly at the auto show.

No Firm Commitment, Yet

It’s not that Bentley hasn’t already made the commitment to electric, it did in the plug-in hybrid Bentayga crossover due in 2018. The Speed 6e Concept is a separate effort.

Reactions by show-goers were favorable at its Geneva stop. There are still two more showings at the upcoming Shanghai and Pebble Beach. If the reception is as right as it was in Geneva, Bentley executives told Automotive News the convertible electric might be a reality by 2021.

“This will give us a very good indication of where we are,” Wolfgang Duerheimer, Bentley Motors chief exec, told the trade paper in an interview. “Do we need it? Or are we okay to still have combustion engines and hybrids, that’s it? This is what we want to find out.” (Like as not, Bentley will be finalizing plans for the model soon so that it can hit the 2021 intro deadline.)

He told the paper that that automaker wants “to send a clear message: ‘If we do it, this is what it would look like.’ EVs don’t necessarily need to look like a refrigerator. They can appeal. They can be sexy. They can be emotional."

The design shown in Geneva evokes a sense of old and new in the two-seater concept. Stefan Sielaff, Bentley’s head of design, said, for example, there are two cameras placed where the traditional sideview mirrors should be. The overall styling owes a great deal to the aircraft industry.

Meantime, Bentley’s telltale bulls-eye air vents along the front dash have remained manual. The touchscreen features an array of screen-based, icon-style buttons. There are also real buttons surrounding the touchscreen.

Unquely Shaped Steering Wheel

The steering wheel is uniquely shaped. Crescent-shaped the wheel has two buttons atop its glass face. Once controls the car’s performance while the other provides added safety in unpredictable drive condition. In the center, a solid piece of glass forms the basis of a high-def screen controlling, among other things, navigation, entertainment, and climate control.

According to show reports, the electric Bentley features a split hood. Two air vents surround a pair of round LED headlights. The front end features Bentley’s large lattice-style front grill in silver and rubbed copper. And the car is keyed on, a white “6e” logo illuminates under the grille, showing out.

Here are some other points:

  • There is no information yet on range, size or capability, but, it will likely be a high-performance electric.
  • Rather than using cables to charge, Bentley plans to use inductive charging. An AC power coupling under the license plate in the rear is a useful backup.
  • Concierge services will come directly from Bentley.
  • From all reports, it will be a soft-top convertible.
  • If production does begin, the all-electric Bentley will reach China first for two reasons, the environment, and the potential market.