Allied Market Research projects that the luxury car market will reach US$733.2 billion by 2026, up from US$495.7 billion in 2018. There’s plenty of money around, some of which is going into top-tier collector cars, but will the luxury buyer take to hybrid and electric cars when V8s and V12s were the standard fare?
The answer is pretty clearly that they will, because of the market share taken by all-electric Tesla. It’s the best-selling luxury brand in the U.S., topping 15 others, says IHS Markit. The company’s most recent surge is in part due to the runaway success of the Model 3 sedan. The marque also has strong brand loyalty.
CEO Adrian Hallmark says his company will be all-electric by 2030, and by 2026 every vehicle will have a plug, a category that includes plug-in hybrids. That’s quite a turnabout for a company known for bespoke luxury vehicles and, in its early days, fire-breathing racers.
The transformation is underway with the Bentayga and Flying Spur Hybrids. The Bentayga, with 443 horsepower, can cruise to 158 miles per hour and reach 60 in 5.2 seconds. The 2022 Spur Hybrid, the second model to be launched, is even faster. Its twin-turbo 2.9-liter V6 combines with an electric motor to produce 536 horsepower (and 553 pound-feet of torque), a 95-horsepower gain on the Bentayga Hybrid. The lithium-ion battery pack is 14.1 kilowatt-hours, and it gives the plug-in hybrid more than 25 miles of electric range. It can actually get to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds, which makes it almost as fast as the V8 Spur. Pricing isn’t finalized, but it’s likely to be more than US$180,000. The 2021 Bentayga Hybrid starts at US$162,725.
And now there’s an even more exclusive Flying Spur Hybrid, called the Odyssean Edition, also unpriced. Approximately 300 will be produced. Special editions are nothing new in the world of luxury cars, but this one—announced last week—is arriving very soon after the standard car. And it’s all about the interior.
The drivetrain is unchanged, but the seats are now upholstered with special British wool tweed. The wood fascia that is de rigueur in cars of this class has a sustainability focus, using 90% less lacquer on top of open-pore
veneer. The three layers together are only 0.1 millimeters in thickness. The center console gets a Piano Linen veneer. Sustainably produced Autumn hide is also used throughout the cabin, in five available colors. Even the embroidery style of the seats is unique to the Odyssean.
Deep-pile overmats with contrasting binding are standard, but buyers can also upgrade to lambswool (which complements the tweed wool seats).
Exterior changes include Pale Brodgar accents on the 21-inch wheels and the lower trim, including both bumpers, headlight, and tail light surrounds and lower body side chrome. A special palette of six colors has been chosen for those accents, but these are bespoke cars so owners can choose any color in the Bentley portfolio—and probably beyond.
Options on the car include touring specification (with a suite of safety applications), an illuminated Flying B mascot, a leather headliner, three-dimensional diamond leather upholstery on the doors and rear quarters, a rotating display and interior mood lighting.
The full range of the Flying Spur Hybrid Odyssean Edition is more than 430 miles, which means it can be used as a daily driver and long-distance tourer. Bentley’s research shows that 90%of buyers of the first-generation Bentayga Hybrid are using their cars daily or several times a week, and nearly all of them make frequent use of
mode for shorter journeys.
Owners will be able to start charging their Spurs remotely from the My Bentley app and also cool or heat the cabin to optimum temperature before they head out. The app will also find the nearest EV chargers.
There don’t appear to be many trade-offs to owning the hybrid version of the Flying Spur, and the Odyssean adds even more luxury touches. The sense of having-it-all is key if Bentley buyers are to make the switch to electrified motoring.
Bentley’s approach seems to be paying off. At the end of July, the company posted its highest-ever half-year profits of US$211 million. The company sold 7,199 cars, distributed evenly around key markets. In 2019, pre-Covid, Bentley sold 4,785 cars in the same period. The Bentayga remains the bestseller.