Will Bentley Go Green?

March 3, 2008

It takes plenty of green to buy a car like the Bentley Arnage. But is the British luxury maker about to go green in an environmentally-friendly way? That’s one of the big questions being asked as the automotive world gathers for the 2008 Geneva Motor Show.

Bentley is planning to gather a select group of media – including TheCarConnection.com, for an opening-day session. What’s on tap, the automaker isn’t saying, an official suggesting only that CEO Franz-Josef Paefgen has some “significant” news.

But the executive may have provided some insight of his own, two months ago, when he told the Bloomberg News Service that there would be a major, environmentally-oriented announcement to be made in Geneva. Christophe Georges, Bentley’s top U.S. executive, dropped a similar hint during an interview with TheCarConnection.com.

So, what could be in store? There’s no question that Bentley has plenty of opportunity to improve what environmentalists like to call its “carbon footprint.” In sharp contrast to its British rival, Aston Martin, Bentley has taken a relatively traditional approach to luxury car design, with big, heavy bodies powered by massive, gas-guzzling engines. It wouldn’t take much to speculate that if, indeed, the automaker plans to go green, it will begin adopting lighter weight designs using newer and more efficient powertrain technology.

Could the latter include diesels? It wouldn’t be entirely out of the realm, considering Audi’s success, both on the track and on the street, with “oil burner” engines. Since both marques are a part of the greater Volkswagen AG family, they could share diesel know-how.

Whatever its strategy, Bentley will need to move fast. Even though the number of potential ultra-luxury buyers is soaring, worldwide, manufacturers are facing a mix of social and legal pressure – including new CO2 rules in Europe and toughened U.S. mileage standards. So to keep the green flowing, Bentley and its high-line competitors clearly have to get greener fast.

Bentley, Rolls-Royce Both Expanding. The reason? Sales are good. by Richard Yarrow (10/24/2007)

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