Stop me if you’ve heard this story before: 2021 has been a strong year for automakers. And it was even better for those premium brands, including English luxury carmaker Bentley Motors (VWAGY).
Bentley’s global sales jumped 31% to a record 14,659 units in 2021. But like its competitors, Bentley cannot rest on its laurels. It must innovate as customers and manufacturers ride the electric tidal wave.
The big news from Bentley is that it has committed nearly $3.5 billion to converting its Crewe, England plant to manufacture electric vehicles (EVs), the first of which will be released in 2025.
“[The] The investment we have committed relates to both the transformation of this 75-year-old site and the complete transformation of five products over five years, from the combustion engine to a full battery electric vehicle,” said Bentley CEO. Motors, Adrian Hallmark, at Yahoo Finance. “This is probably the boldest and most radical plan the company has ever had since its inception.”
Hallmark was tight-lipped on the details surrounding its first electric vehicle, other than saying it would be a Bentley through and through in craftsmanship, materials, and performance, and that it was a “game changer” in the making.
While it may seem like Bentley is “skating where the puck goes” (in the style of hockey great Wayne Gretzky), it turns out that data and customer interest are also informing these changes, in a surprising way.
“Four years ago we looked at searches in our world of customers, both existing buyers, but also people who buy other luxury vehicles in the same price range, and about 30% of people four years ago in our segment said they were looking at an electric car within the next five years,” he said.
But the kicker is what the percentage is now. “That number has now doubled to more than 60% of buyers and luxury intentions wanting to seek out an electric car over the next five years,” Hallmark said, noting that the 2025 release or its first EV, and the date 2030 limit to move to a full EV with all its cars, catches the “inflection point” at the right time.
Let’s not forget that Bentley’s great rival Rolls-Royce (BMWYY) also plans to switch to all electric vehicles by 2030. And that’s on top of what Italian super-performance brands Ferrari (RACE) are also doing. and Lamborghini (VWAGY).
“We are not a high performance car company with loud exhaust systems, we are not a pure luxury company in the super luxury segment. Our customers drive our cars pretty much every day of the week,” Hallmark said.
It’s this niche within this market – where luxury meets everyday use – that Bentley believes will see the most success when the future of electric vehicles is finally here.
“When you combine [everyday drivability] with a level of quality that we achieve – and I’m not just talking about aesthetic quality, but I’m talking about function quality in the market, which is on par with the best of the premium brands, which is rare for a car company from luxury – I think we are a unique proposition,” he says.
“And electrification is a perfect match for what Bentley stands for: effortless acceleration, long-distance touring capability, quiet when you want it and fun when you need it.”
Pras Subramanian is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. You can follow him on Twitter and on instagram.
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