By on October 30, 2018

For nearly five decades, Rolls-Royce and Bentley shared the same bed, then lived amicably under the same roof for another 18 years, becoming ever closer to each other due to dwindling shared finances. Then two Germans showed up and they parted ways, forever.

While still representing the richly browned upper crust of British motoring, the two brands have maintained fairly similar development paths, launching sedans, coupes, and now SUVs in quick succession of each other. Now, because green types look down on ornate, porky, roadgoing behemoths powered by gas-swilling eight- and twelve-cylinder engines, both brands have decided to embrace the environmental movement.

Naturally, news of these tentative electric product plans hit the presses almost simultaneously.

Two weeks ago, as Rolls-Royce released a bevy of its massive Cullinan SUVs into the hands of journalists, CEO Torsten Müller-Otvös told Bloomberg that hybrid vehicles were not a proper fit for the BMW-owned company. Not electrics, however.

“There is an electric future for Rolls-Royce. We have not made our plan about what comes first, and what comes when, but we know that we will go full electric,” he said. “We will not do hybrids or whatever. Our proposition is full electric. It will come in the next decade, step by step by step.”

What form this proposition will take is murky. Müller-Otvös recently said he had no plans to add another model to the brand’s portfolio, which suggests it could be an electric variant of an existing model. That said, the CEO said he’ll “go with the flow” if the public demands it.

2017 Bentley Bentayga:

Meanwhile, a Reuters report suggests the future electric Roller might have some friendly British (headquartered) competition. Bentley is reportedly in the midst of discussions over a potential EV due to its excessive corporate emissions, the strict regulatory environment, and Europe’s march towards combustion vehicle bans. It’s no secret that VW’s lesser brands are all on board with HQ’s plan for a multitude of EVs in the coming years.

A high-end dedicated electric platform under development by Porsche and Audi (Premium Platform Electric, or PPE) offers an opportunity, but Bentley needs to make a decision fairly quickly. Top brass would have to give the project the green light, so to speak, within a year.

“When is the first full-electric Bentley? That is currently in the decision process, but our target is definitely before 2025,” said Bentley CEO Adrian Hallmark.

[Image: BMW Group, VW Group]

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15 Comments on “Gas-guzzling Former Roommates Poised to Become Eco Rivals...”

  • avatar

    Makes sense from a noise and torque perspective. This should make for some comfortable wafting.

    • 0 avatar

      Exactly. Even more for RR. Bentley had the blower Bentleys of the 1930s. But Rolls started with the Ghost and has never been about anything other than effortless serene wafting.

  • avatar

    Since both Bentley and Rolls Royce are already rather bespoke just offer a few existing models to be optional electric

  • avatar

    Someone in the market for conspicuous opulence would likely consider burning exorbitant amounts of fossil fuel to be a selling point, not a drawback. RR and Bentley should re-engineer a slightly scaled down version of the RR/Packard V-1650 V-12 engine from the P-51 Mustang and install it in their land vessels. Sheiks and Russian oligarchs will rejoice and clamor for fleets of them.

  • avatar

    I don’t see RR customers going EV.

    • 0 avatar

      Why not? If you want absolute quite, a total lack of vibration and mountains of instant effortless torque, then electric is way better than ICE.

      • 0 avatar

        You haven’t been in a Rolls Royce, have you? They are already absolutely quiet and have a total lack of vibration. And you don’t want ‘instant’ torque in a Rolls Royce, you want to waft.

        Stuffing a huge battery pack under the hood and partially under the trunk would make the car a nightmare dynamically, and putting them under the floor is a stupid idea as we see in Teslas and other EVs: it takes away interior space and gives you a horrible seating position, the only way to return the seating position to that of a normal limousine is by raising the roof height as much as you raised the floor height with the batteries.

        Also, putting batteries under the floor would take away the nice proportions, it would not make any sense to have a huge front hood. Even the RR grille would lose meaning.

        So yeah, CNG (using biomethane) or hydrogen fuel cell would make a lot more sense. And no, even hydrogen fuel cells aren’t impossible: hundreds of billions have already been spent on forcing electric cars onto the market and they’re not such a great product even now. With the same money pushing hydrogen fuel cell vehicles seems to make more sense. And that would have the massive players’ backing, plus would really be environmentally very friendly and not fake-environmentally-friendly like EV.

    • 0 avatar

      If London bans IC engines from the city center how do you think the Queen will get to work? ;-)

  • avatar

    I remember a Clarckson column years ago where he drove a prototype or one off RR. Said it was the smartest move ever and couldn’t believe they weren’t roll8ng it out.

    Silence, tourque, induction charging in the garage so you never need to mix with plebs putting fuel in their cars, and plenty of range to take you to the yacht club. If you want to go further take the Range rover.

  • avatar

    I guess neither brand needs to worry if the clientele has enough taxable income to make them eligible for the EV tax credits – and it will certainly take them some years to reach 200,000 sales for the credits to expire. As a taxpayer who has enjoyed subsidizing Tesla buyers for years, it will be a real pleasure to help out the plutocrats with their next green car purchase.

  • avatar
    Dan R

    We should all buy a RR to help stop climate change!

  • avatar

    The story is an interesting one. BMW and VW wanted a halo brand and were fighting over buying the RollsRoyce-Bentley company.

    BMW looked the top contender as it already supplied engines, Mercedes showed interest but then decided it could do better by digging out an old marque, but VW swooped in and won.

    However it turned out that they won the factories, production lines and rights to the Bentley marque.

    BMW negotiated with the Rolls Royce parent company and obtained the rights to the marque on cars.

    They did give VW a grace period to run out current Rolls Royce cars, and VW looked to replace the BMW engines in the Bentleys with the previous home-grown engines. BMW built a brand new factory at the Goodwood estate and released the Phantom.

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