Bentley Starts Three-Year BEV Powertrain Study

Bentley is taking the first tentative steps towards a full BEV powertrain for its luxury cars by announcing a three-year research study into employing a new e-axle.

The iconic brand, receiver of Ettore Bugatti’s back-handed praise of being the fastest truck in the world, has been the champion of large capacity sports machines from its inception in 1919. So the move away from a pure ICE powertrain is bound to cause many sleepless nights as to how best achieve this without losing a crucial part of the brand’s DNA.

Nonetheless, its new stated mission is to “transform electric vehicle powertrains, utilizing a fully integrated, free from rare-earth magnet e-axle that supports electric vehicle architectures”. The automaker, in league with Innovate UK bringing together a further nine industrial and academic organizations, says this is its ambition to lead sustainable luxury mobility and introduce the first fully electric Bentley by 2026.

The study, dubbed Octopus, standing for Optimized Components, Test and simulatiOn, toolkits for Powertrains which integrate Ultra high-speed motor Solutions) follows an 18-month investigation that claimed a technological breakthrough in electric drive systems for high-performance vehicles.

The system claims to exceed the latest permanent magnet motor performance while also removing the need for both rare-earth magnets and copper windings, delivering cost savings and allowing recyclable end of life components.

Stefan Fischer, director of powertrain engineering at Bentley, said: “We have made no secret of our ambition to lead the way in the delivery of sustainable luxury mobility, Beyond100. We have a clear roadmap to offer a hybrid option for every model by 2023, starting with the Bentayga Hybrid, and our next goal moves towards a fully electric Bentley by 2026.

“However today, there remains challenges and package constraints on the viability and flexibility of electric vehicle powertrains that are able to fully support EV architectures. With the industry, technologies and cars changing faster than ever before, research projects such as Octopus are crucial to deliver innovative technologies and overcome challenges for the next generation of mobility solutions.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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