Gas-guzzling Former Roommates Poised to Become Eco Rivals

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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