The electric Bentley EXP-12 Speed 6e roadster concept has been revealed at the Geneva motor show, illustrating the automaker’s growing interest in electric propulsion. The 2 seater luxury car develops many of the themes first expressed in the EXP10 coupé concept unveiled in Geneva two years ago. It also signals the way of Bentley’s thinking about the shape of the fifth model line to which Bentley CEO Wolfgang Dürheimer has often referred. Designed in Bentley’s Crewe studios under design director Stefan Sielaff, the EXP12’s body mixes old-style Bentley design cues — such as the mesh grille and strong back haunches with new low nose proportions for a Bentley.
The familiar mesh grille has been studied and set low at the front of the car, with a wide air scoop below that, running right across. There are suggestions of a smooth splitter, with a chin detail at its edges faintly reminiscent of a battery heat-sink. The bonnet features a familiar ‘sighting’ crease down the Centre line – in order to keep aero-dynamic drag under control. Bentley has not revealed much about the powertrain, but evidence from the car’s remarkable instrument graphics suggests a 483 km range and a 4 wheel drive powertrain, consisting of a pair of motors mounted between the wheels one at the back and one at the front. There isn’t any detail about battery location, but the low seating places and the high Centre console suggest it might be carried in a T- shape, running down the spine of the car and then across it, behind the occupants.
Close inspection reveals diamond designed pieces of copper mounted at every intersection of the grille’s mesh pieces. The detail is an allusion to the car’s electric powertrain, according to John Paul ‘JP’ Gregory, head of exterior design, and it was also used fewer conspicuously on Bentley’s Mulsanne hybrid. “It is right for an electric Bentley,” said Gregory. “It’s a valuable material and an authentic one. We’ve used copper in little details all over the car.” Inside, the seat patterns feature a style of diamond stitching known as ‘kilting’, which echoes the grille shape and sets a theme for door inners. In the Centre console, there’s a multi-function rotary switch that selects motion (forward, neutral, reverse) plus a neat little copper paddle above that determines the driving mode. Bentley is remaining tight-lipped on whether the EXP12 Speed 6 roadster will make production, confirming only that customers will help it decide.