Bentley is on the cusp of approving it luxury SUV to go on-sale in 2015, and according to sales and marketing member of the board Kevin Rose a plug-in hybrid version is a definite.
“We’ll probably bring an SUV to market, and that may be the first time we come with a plug-in hybrid,” said Rose.
“That [plug in] is the sort of technology we see would be better for Bentley globally … I think because it’s easier for customers, they don’t have to do anything different.”
Rose confirmed that the company is “in the final stages of approval” adding that “we’re very confident that we’ll get it” and that “if we get the approval anytime now, it takes about two-and-a-half years to bring it into production.”
The luxury SUV will be based on the Bentley EXP 9F concept (pictured) that was revealed at the 2012 Goodwood Festival of Speed. Rose cautions that that the concept is “by no means the final design”.
He suggests late 2015 timing for the still-unnamed model, and 2016 for the hybrid.
The hybrid technology will be shared across the VW Group. Not only will the Bentley SUV share its platform with the next generation Volkswagen Touareg, Audi Q7 and Porsche Cayenne, but the hybrid technology, too, will be shared between those models.
“We envisage that city legislation may become more powerful than federal legislation as pollution become more of an issue,” says Rose of the decision to go with a plug-in hybrid model that can run only on battery power for several kilometres.
“So people will focus on trying to improve air quality in cities”.
The sales and marketing chief forecasts 3000-4000 annual sales per year, which would be approximately a 50 per cent increase on Bentley’s total global sales in 2012.
“Based on [our figures] all our customers have an SUV anyway,” Rose mused.
“They all have a top-line SUV like a Range Rover…
“When we showed the concept late last year – and that’s by no means the final design – we got almost 3000 people who said ‘if you bring an SUV, I’ll buy one…”
Rose says that Bentley is under no pressure from the VW Group to expand, however he confessed that the company is looking at both smaller coupe and larger sedan options to expand the model line-up – particularly to satisfy the growing Chinese market.
“As it happens we have a meeting in the next few weeks where we’re looking at the trends … our customer profiles and their attitudes, and bodystyle trends.
“We’ve got to make decisions in the next few months about cars that will come into the market in 2018-19 and so on…
“So we’re looking forward. We see potential for other lines and potential derivatives of current lines…”