Bentley, the British luxury carmaker, will stop making fossil fuel cars by 2030 and aims to be completely carbon-neutral at the same time, in one of the most ambitious plans of any UK car manufacturer in the transition towards electric vehicles. It will stop building cars with traditional internal combustion engines within six years, instead making hybrids, and then its first battery electric cars in 2025. By 2030 it will sell only pure battery electric vehicles, with zero-carbon exhaust emissions. The rapid transition will mean that a company famed for enormous 12-cylinder petrol engines, with large carbon dioxide emissions to match, aims to become one of the UK automotive industry’s leading champions of environmental sustainability.
Bentley may have been anticipating the now public commitment by the UK Government, banning the sale of new cars and vans powered wholly by petrol and diesel by 2030. Target or no target, Bentley will now have to comply in changing its business model towards greener cars. But let’s give credit where it’s due. The UK Government’s target was initially scheduled for 2040; Bentley has done well to see the direction of travel, if you will excuse the pun, and not bide its time. Furthermore, Bentley plans to sell only pure electric vehicles by 2030. This goes further than the Government’s calls, which do allow for hybrid production beyond 2030. Bentley will not launch its first electric model until 2025. Switching the entire product portfolio by 2030 would be an exceptional achievement, and a case-study example of how businesses can reform for sustainability.
More widely, the news highlights how businesses are having to radically rethink their models towards 2030, to meet climate objectives while in the wake of an economic recovery from Covid. The pandemic has had a huge impact on car sales, with October being the weakest month of sales in the UK in nine years. It is reassuring that for all the rhetoric of ‘Building Back Better’, Bentley’s commitment signals some reason to be optimistic – particularly now alongside Government requirements. Considering new research is showing that electric cars will cost the same to make as conventional cars, and electric vehicle sales are up 664% since 2016, while diesel sales are down 75% through the same period, this could be good for the industry and the climate.