Bentley CEO Says Going Electric Is 'Essential' to Car Maker's Future

Bentley Motors CEO Christophe Georges
October 18, 2019

Can a car with a base price of $215,000 ー just about the same price of the average home in the U.S. ー be considered a "starter sedan"? If it's a Bentley, maybe.

The British luxury automaker, a subsidiary of Volkswagen, is celebrating its 100th year with an update to its Flying Spur model, which recently debuted among the world's rich and famous in Monte Carlo. Back in the U.S., Bentley Motors CEO Christophe Georges is thinking about the future of the iconic motor company.

Georges told Cheddar that going electric is "essential" to the company's future. As part of the anniversary celebrations, Bentley is showing off a new prototype for its first all-electric sedan, dubbed the EXP 100. Georges said the first fully electric Bentley will be in showrooms by 2025, with plug-in hybrid models arriving in 2023. That's a pivot, of sort, from Bentley, which has been slow to adopt electrification given its high-end customer base that demands performance and is not so concerned with the cost of gas.

As a British company, thought, there is a more pressing issue at hand for Georges: Brexit. He said Bentley, like other UK-based firms, has worked diligently to prepare for all scenarios, including "the worst possible case, which would be a no-deal Brexit." Bentley has built a new warehouse that Georges said will help it maintain its supply chain even in the event of a "crash out," which seems less likely now that a tentative deal has been reached.

Georges also said that the trade war between the U.S. and China has not impacted Bentley's operations, and indeed the company's growth in China has been "substantial," with 1 in 5 luxury cars on Chinese roads now carrying the iconic Bentley hood emblem, he said.