Bentley Confirms New Green Strategy

March 4, 2008
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As first reported, ultra-luxury marque Bentley plans to reshape itself as an environmentally-friendly brand, a move that will result in a new generation of gas-sipping powertrains and lighter, more aerodynamic product designs.

“There are two major issues facing the auto industry,” asserted Bentley CEO Franz-Josef Paefgen, during a press briefing at the 2008 Geneva Motor Show, “the security of our fuel supply and climate change.” Add to that the growing demand by consumers for cleaner, more efficient products. Even the sort of buyers who can afford a Bentley and might not care about gas prices are feeling social pressure to go green, company officials acknowledged, a factor behind Bentley's new strategy.

While the automaker was short on specific details, Paefgen promised to trim the amount of CO2, the prime culprit in global warming, emitted by Bentley products by “at least 15 percent” by 2012.

The executive announced that an all-new powertrain will be introduced by that time which will yield a 40 percent reduction in fuel consumption compared to a comparable Bentley engine todcay.

The entire Bentley line-up will be capable of running on biofuels by 2012, and with the assistance of its German parent, Volkswagen AG, the British marque said it will take steps to increase the ability of so-called second-generation biofuels. These can be produced from scrap agricultural materials, such as straw, rather than requiring the use of corn and other food stocks.

Ulrich Eichorn, Bentley’s top engineer, said the automaker is looking at an assortment of lightweight materials, including aluminum, magnesium and composites, to put the company’s hefty products on a diet. How much the automaker is targeting remains unsaid, though he hinted that something on the order of 20 percent is not realistic, at least in the near-term.

While Bentley remains focused on delivering the same levels of performance for which it has become known, Paefgen said there are plenty of ways to do so more efficiently. At least for now, the luxury marque is focusing on gasoline-based technologies, such as direct injection, though eventually, hinted Paefgen, it is likely to consider “hybrid, diesel, everything.”

As at other recent auto shows around the world, green has been a color waved by all manner of manufacturers, from those on the bottom end of the spectrum up to the most exclusive. Leading into the Geneva Motor Show, Mercedes-Benz’s performance division, AMG, announced plans to boost its mileage by at least 20 percent in the next few years.

Fuel economy is only part of the focus. Significantly virtually every maker revealed not only the mileage of its new products, but also the amount of CO2 it will produce – a disclosure driven by tough new European regulations designed to head off the global warming crisis.

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