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Geneva show: Bentley goes EV with Speed 6e

Bovine expression: Bentley’s Geneva show car interior is an ostentatious demonstration of what the world’s luxury car authority is capable of when it lets its hair down.

EXP 12 Speed 6e concept previews pure electric powertrains for Bentley


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8 Mar 2017

BENTLEY has reignited the excitement sparked by its jaw-dropping EXP 10 Speed 6 concept at the 2015 Geneva motor show, this time with a convertible version dubbed the EXP 12 Speed 6e that also represents the company’s foray into pure electrification.

The reappearance of a small sportscar concept adds fuel to the theory that Bentley is planning to introduce a new smaller sports model under the Continental GT coupe and convertible, that could take the brand into new markets for new audiences.

According to Bentley Motors chairman and CEO Wolfgang Duerhemier the concept is not just a show pony and is intended to gauge the reaction of Bentley fans and customers to the possibility of electrification and will be instrumental in the company’s future line-up.

“The EXP 12 Speed 6e is a concept to show that Bentley is defining electric motoring in the luxury sector, with the appropriate technology, high quality materials and refinement levels you’d expect from a true Bentley,” he said.

“This concept enables us to engage with luxury customers and gather feedback on our approach. Bentley is committed to offering an electric model in its future portfolio and we are interested to receive feedback on this concept.” Bentley has not offered any technical details relating specifically to the Speed 6e concept but refers more generally to an electric model when it said the adoption of electric drivetrains will not compromise the performance and luxury customers expect from the flying-B badge.

According to the company, a zero emissions Bentley must be able to go from London to Paris on a single charge – about 450km – and offer high-speed inductive charging to allow even longer trips without inconveniencing the travellers.

In addition to the insight into the company’s electric intentions of the future, Bentley says the Geneva show concept also allows a glimpse at its future styling direction as well.

Aesthetics for the new concept differ little from the EXP 10 Speed 6 of two years ago with only the obvious roof line and wheel design to set the two apart.

Like the coupe, the new convertible has the figure 6 stencilled on its large grille, although the mesh is formed from a “complex 3D geometry” in place of the coupe’s fencing wire.

Massive wheels have adopted a mesmerising design which uses a combination of painted black sections and machined aluminium to create the illusion of floating spokes.

At the stern, the same tail-light and boot-less design is employed but the combustion-powered coupe’s pair of oval exhausts have been replaced by more inert slotted panels – possibly vents.

Rather than re-purposing the coupe’s fuel filler cap as a charge socket, the EXP 12 Speed 6e has a charge socket concealed behind the rear registration plate, for when inductive charging is not available.

On the inside, the concept takes opulence to a new level even by Bentley’s class-leading standards with deep red wine analine leather applied to virtually every surface, including the indicator stalks, steering column, sun visors, A-pillars and tonneau cover.

For a distinctly aeronautical feel, the steering ‘wheel’ has been sectioned to remove the upper part of the rim leaving space for a pair of thumb buttons on each side. The buttons are decorated with a rocket symbol and allow an extra boost of torque or to set a speed limit when in urban areas.

A central control organic LED touchscreen is displayed behind a single piece of curved glass, while more cut glass is used for steering wheel sections and the speedometer centre.

Intricate wood veneered panels cover the few sections of interior not upholstered with hide, while a number of copper embellishments about the cabin are a reference to the electrically conductive copper wire used extensively in electrified powertrains.

Bentley will dip its toe into production electrified vehicles next year when it introduces a plug-in hybrid version of its Bentayga large SUV, but is yet to confirm a date for arrival of its first pure electric vehicle.

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