Movie stars and moguls moseying through sunny Los Angeles this week may have spotted a new luxury Bentley Flying Spur in traditional British racing green.
It’s just one colourful shade among many on show to the shoppers on Rodeo Drive and down in Santa Barbara as Bentley launches the new car in California.
Green is arguably the most significant new colour from the UK luxury car-maker, which builds the sporty limousines some 5,000 miles away in wintry Crewe.
The clue’s in the colour: A Bentley Flying Spur Hybrid in British racing green boasting a petrol-electric, plug-in hybrid powertrain
And, the Flying Spur Hybrid in question is also ‘green’ in intent.
It is a petrol-electric plug-in hybrid that marks an important early step in the car-maker’s drive towards electrification — and a fully electric line-up within the decade.
After celebrating record sales in 2021, Bentley is powering into 2022 with its green agenda, including an imminent announcement of a multi-million pound investment to accelerate its ambitious zero-emissions plans at the Crewe factory, which already employs 4,000.
Bentley Motors was founded in 1919 by English engineer Walter Owen ‘W O’ Bentley, whose motto was: ‘To build a good car, a fast car, the best in class.’
The firm established a strong racing pedigree boosted by the ‘Bentley Boys’ of the 1920s led by Woolf Barnato, a triple winner of the Le Mans 24-hour endurance race.
After a bidding war with rival BMW in 1998, Germany’s Volkswagen Group struck a deal to take over Bentley from then owners Vickers, achieving sole control from 2003 and retaining the Crewe factory.
The Flying Spur Hybrid is powered by a 2.9-litre V6 petrol engine combined with an advanced electric motor to deliver a total of 544 horsepower
The Flying Spur’s electric-motor is powered by a 14.1 kWh lithium ion battery that can be fully charged in two and a half hours
Now, as part of its ambitious ‘Beyond100’ strategy, Bentley aims to see its entire range offering an electrified hybrid option by 2024, with the first fully electric car launched in 2025, exclusively plug-in hybrid or battery electric vehicles by 2026, and solely pure-electric battery vehicles by 2030, when the Government outlaws new petrol and diesel vehicle sales.
Next into the showrooms is the Flying Spur Hybrid, which was unveiled last summer at the environmentally friendly Macallan distillery, on Speyside in the Highlands, with which the company has established a partnership.
Brisk: The Flying Spur Hybrid gets from rest to 60mph in 4.1 seconds (0-62mph 4.3 secs) up to a top speed of 177mph
Costing around £170,000, the Flying Spur Hybrid is powered by a 2.9-litre V6 petrol engine combined with an advanced electric motor to deliver a total of 544 horsepower.
This propels the car from rest to 60mph in 4.1 seconds up to a top speed of 177mph. It has an electric-only range of 25 miles.
The electric-motor is powered by a 14.1 kWh lithium ion battery that can be fully charged in two and a half hours.
It is Bentley’s second hybrid, following the Bentayga Hybrid SUV, which it exceeds in power by 95 horsepower.
Clean look: The luxurious interior of the car. Bentley aims to see its entire range offering an electrified hybrid option by 2024
The Flying Spur Hybrid is Bentley’s second hybrid, following the Bentayga SUV, which it exceeds in power by 95 horsepower
A hint at Bentley’s electrified future was given during the firm’s 2019 centenary celebrations with the reveal of the all-electric EXP 100 GT concept car, which used green materials including a leather-like textile upholstery made from a by-product of wine-making.
Wider green moves are afoot as Bentley continues to evolve from the world’s largest producer of 12-cylinder petrol engines into a company that produces no internal combustion engines within a decade.
Since 2018, Bentley’s factory in Crewe has been certified carbon neutral by the Carbon Trust.
There’s a water recycling system in the paint shop, local tree planting, 30,000 solar panels and renewable-only electricity sources.
And business is booming. Earlier this month Bentley announced record sales of 14,659 cars worldwide in 2021 — an increase of 31 per cent on its previous record year in 2020.
Bentley highlighted ‘unprecedented’ demand for its petrol-electric hybrid models — spearheaded by the Bentayga SUV priced from £157,800 and the new Flying Spur limousine from £164,000.
Six landmark Bentleys
The original 3.0 litre Bentley: Designed by founder Walter Owen ‘W.O.’ Bentley in 1919, the 3.0 litre sold from 1921-29 as a fast tourer for the Continent and a race car, winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1924 and 1927
‘Blower’ Bentley: The imposing 4.5 litre ‘Blower’ Bentley, with a supercharger developed by engineer Amherst Villiers, is the iconic pre-war ‘Bentley Boys’ racer and still on the road
Bentley R-Type: Only 208 built between 1952 and 1955, powered by 4.5 litre 6-cylinder engine (later 4.9 litre). Price from £6,928 (15 times average income)
Continental GT: The GT of 2003 reinvented grand touring —and Bentley — and is still one of the biggest sellers, priced from £158,000
Bentley Bentayga: It broke the mould as the first Bentley SUV and later the first hybrid. Now the firm’s biggest seller, priced from £157,800
EXP 100GT: Futuristic EXP 100GT concept car was unveiled in 2019 to mark Bentley’s centenary — and next 100 years — as a statement of intent about Bentley’s plans for electrification
Bosses say the results are a testament to the workforce and to measures taken to continue production despite Covid, logistical issues, global shortages of key computer chips and increasing demand for hybridised models.
Boosted by its hybrid option, the Bentayga SUV was the biggest seller, achieving a 40 per cent share of sales while the Continental GT luxury grand tourer (from £170,000) accounted for 33 per cent.
Earlier this month Bentley announced record sales of 14,659 cars worldwide in 2021 — an increase of 31% on its previous record year in 2020
In October, Bentley announced record third quarter operating profits of 275million euros (£229million), putting it on course for a record full year.
Bentley Motors chairman and chief executive Adrian Hallmark said: ‘The original Bentley boys were pioneers and leaders.
Now, as we look Beyond100, we will continue to lead by reinventing the company.’ He has also suggested that hydrogen fuel cells — using the gas combined with oxygen in a chemical reaction to produce electric power, with only water coming out of the exhaust pipe — are a longer term aim.
Now that would really be stepping on the green gas.
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