The retirement of Bentley Mulsanne is imminent, and the British brand intends to deliver in the $ 300,000 space currently occupied by its most luxurious vehicle.
Adrian Hallmark, owner of Bentley, said that they are seriously thinking about launching an SUV into the void.
He started by explaining the unassailable commercial logic that led to the decision not to replace the Mulsanne. “In the good old days, 20 years ago, when the Arnage was on the road with the [Rolls-Royce] Silver Seraph, global four-door sales in this part of the market were about 1500 to 2000 a year combined,” he said. “Now they are less than 1000, and we are 50 percent of that.”
Put simply, those numbers just aren’t sufficient to justify the huge expense of developing a direct replacement for the Mulsanne. “The cost of developing those cars with the technology and requirements for emissions and crash mean that they are no less expensive to develop than a car you can sell 5000 a year of,” Hallmark explained. “If we only see potential for 400 to 600 a year, it makes the business case extremely tough.”
He said, “Our ambition is to fill that price space for sure.” Bentley does not plan to leave this rarefied part of the market, and an SUV is the most likely candidate. Mr. Hallmark emphasized that they will not build sports cars. “SUVs were 47 percent of our sales last year. If you look at the segment below us, it’s about 50 percent.”
“So the clear indication is that both premium-car buyers and luxury-car buyers now see SUVs as being far more attractive.”
A source from the company said that by 2025, the first pure electric vehicle will be produced by Bentley. Whatever shape the range-topping model takes, it won’t be powered by a W-12 engine: Hallmark confirmed that it is set to be phased out relatively soon.
“For 100 years we have tried to make engines bigger and more powerful,” Hallmark said. “For the next 10 years we’re going to try and make them disappear.” This is almost certain that the plug-in-hybrid powertrain will be available on the Bentayga-plus. Bentley has committed to offering hybrid options on all models by 2023.