Geneva Motor Show: Bentley surprises with electric Speed 6 concept

Bentley says 6e would be able to drive between London and Paris on a single charge

The  Bentley EXP 12 6e concept convertible hybrid at the  Geneva International Motor Show. Photographer: Luke Macgregor/Bloomberg

The Bentley EXP 12 6e concept convertible hybrid at the Geneva International Motor Show. Photographer: Luke Macgregor/Bloomberg

 

At last! A genuine surprise at the Geneva Motor Show with Bentley wheeling out an all-electric concept version of its upcoming Speed 6 sports coupé called the EXP 12 Speed 6e. And it’s a convertible version too, giving us our first glance at the top-down Speed 6.

 Presenting the car to the public and press, Wolfgang Dürheimer, chairman and chief executive of Bentley Motors, said that “the EXP 12 Speed 6e is a concept to show that Bentley is defining electric motoring in the luxury sector, with the appropriate technology, high-quality materials and refinement levels you’d expect from a true Bentley. This concept enables us to engage with luxury customers and gather feedback on our approach. Bentley is committed to offering an electric model in its future portfolio and we are interested to receive feedback on this concept.”

 Bentley isn’t giving away any details on range or charging times for the moment, which is a shame, but claims that the Speed 6e “would, for example, be able to drive between London and Paris or Milan and Monaco on a single charge and the on board experience will be enhanced for both driver and passenger thanks to the integration of state-of-the-art technology.”

 That tech is some of the most up-to-date yet seen in a Bentley, including a vast curved centre console made from glass, behind which is a massive OLED touch screen, which takes over most of the car’s major controls.

Cut-glass steering wheel

Handmade, cut-glass sections on the steering wheel contain the controls for media, communications, navigation and car set-up. There are also two buttons at the top of the cut-away steering wheel, one offering an instant performance boost and the other the ability to limit speed, in urban areas for example. The passenger, meanwhile, has their own control panel on the front fascia with access to social media, email and entertainment.

 As well as the usual leather, the interior of the Speed 6e is also highlighted with copper, a nod to the electric drivetrain. On the outside, it looks as if the Speed 6 will not change much from its original concept for production, and it keeps the long-bonnet, short-overhangs styling which come from using the same chassis as the new Porsche Panamera.

 This 6e electric model makes clever use of some of the styling features of the petrol models, including using the bonnet vents to help cool the battery stack while the door-mounted cameras – which replace traditional mirrors – have been shaped to look like classic aircraft fuselages. 

 Production? Don’t hold your breath. The petrol Speed 6 will go on sale next year, with the convertible following in 2019. As for this electric version, it’s only a toe in the water for now, and Bentley will wait to hear what customers think before deciding. It will launch a plugin-hybrid version of the Bentayga SUV later this year though, so battery power is coming to Bentley come what may.