The next Bentley Mulsanne could go all-electric

Massive sedan's sales may hinge on stricter emissions mandates.

2017 Bentley Mulsanne driving
  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
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How many Bentleys are sold in China, anyway?* That's a question worth asking after the company said it will consider switching the powertrain of its uber-luxe sedan Mulsanne to all-electric from its current gas-guzzling V8 setup. Such a switch would be in the name of adhering to stricter greenhouse-gas emissions limits, especially in countries like China.

Bentley executive Hans Holzgartner told Autocar that the company may soon have problems selling a V8-powered Mulsanne in China because government regulators are attempting to push for more zero-emissions vehicles to combat smog problems in the country's largest cities. Oddly, Holzgartner said an electric powertrain is "better suited" to heavier luxury cars than lighter sports cars because of an electric motor's smooth, instant delivery of torque. With the Mulsanne already priced north of $300,000 in the US, passing on the costs of such a huge battery pack will probably be less of an issue than for more typically-priced models.

Of course, there would be a ton (almost literally) of battery cells involved. The Mulsanne tips the scales at almost 6,000 pounds, or almost twice the weight of a Nissan Leaf and about 25 percent more than a Tesla Model S. For those curious how the one-percenters live, take a look at Autoblog's recent drive of a Mulsanne Speed.

Since this is just being studied at this point, it's possible the next Mulsanne could get a battery-electric or plug-in hybrid version for certain markets, while others would retain a gas engine or offer a choice. Assuming it keeps the gas option, the next Mulsanne will reportedly to switch to a twelve-cylinder engine, likely a version of the Volkswagen Group's W12.

As for green cred, let's just say the Mulsanne's couldn't be much worse. Earlier this year, the Mulsanne showed up on the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy's (ACEEE) annual list of "meanest" vehicles when it came to environmental sustainability. The Bentley was rated the fourth-meanest vehicle sold in the US, following the Mercedes-Benz G65 AMG, the Chevrolet G2500 Express/ GMC Savana, and the Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG. The EPA rates the Mulsanne's fuel efficiency at an absolutely gasoline-swilling 13 miles per gallon combined.

* If you're curious, Bentley sold 1,615 cars in China last year.

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2017 Bentley Mulsanne Interior

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