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Bentley delays all-electric plan beyond 2030 amid vehicle development issues

by SuperiorInvest

Bentley Continental GTC Speed ​​in Kingfisher.

Adam Jeffery | CNBC

Bentley Motors is delaying its plans to exclusively offer fully electric vehicles by the end of this decade due to changing market conditions and a delay in its first electric vehicle.

CEO Adrian Hallmark said the famous British luxury car maker remains committed to carbon neutrality and exclusively offers electric vehicles, but now plans to do so a couple of years later. Bentley will continue to offer plug-in hybrids alongside BEVs, or battery electric vehicles, beyond its previous target of 2030, Hallmark said.

“Whether we deliver all BEVs by 2031 or not, we may still have some hybrids that we would not have had after 2030,” he said during a press conference. “But not for 10 years, maybe just a couple of years, when we run out.”

Bentley is among a growing number of automakers changing, delaying or canceling ambitious electric vehicle plans as global adoption grows more slowly than many expected.

Bentley's first electric vehicle was expected to launch next year, followed by a new all-electric model each year as part of a plan to invest $3.4 billion by 2030. The company now expects its first electric vehicle to launch in 2026, delaying the launch. also the following vehicles.

Adrian Hallmark, CEO of Bentley.

Scott Mlyn | CNBC

The delay in Bentley's first all-electric vehicle was the result of software issues, as well as difficulties developing the vehicle's architecture to Bentley standards, according to Hallmark. He said those challenges were the main driver behind the delay of his electric vehicle plans, rather than changing market conditions.

Hallmark said Bentley will increase its investment in plug-in hybrids by hundreds of millions of dollars in the coming years. He said that given the increased investment, the company needs to “execute them a little bit more” to achieve the desired return on investment.

Bentley currently offers plug-in hybrid versions of its Bentayga SUV for $203,200 and its Flying Spur sedan for $221,200. Both include engines, as well as components for electric vehicles and electric range.

Bentley still plans to end production of traditional internal combustion engines, including its famous V-12 engines next month and non-hybrid V-8s in July or August.

A staff member checks a Bentayga SUV on Bentley's production line at its factory in Crewe, England, on December 7, 2022.

Phil Noble | Reuters

The update to Bentley's electric vehicle plans was announced alongside the volkswagenProprietary Company 2023 Financial Results.

Those results include deliveries of 13,560 vehicles globally, down 11% from a record of nearly 15,200 vehicles in 2022. Revenue was $3.21 billion, down 13% from the previous year, with an operating profit of $644. 7 million dollars, 17% less.

Hallmark called 2023 a big year for the company, but also “a year of massive changes in performance across the broader luxury market” that impacted the business. He cited challenges including changing sales dynamics in China, as well as macroeconomic concerns and higher interest rates for the 30% of buyers who lease their vehicles.

Bentley's performance in 2023 significantly surpassed that of 2021, when it sold more vehicles but with lower profits. Hallmark said the increase in revenue and profits compared to two years ago is a direct result of customers opting for greater customization and add-ons for their vehicles.

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