Bentley's coupe might need to go electric to avoid competing with models from its sister companies.
Bentley officials are trying to make a sound business case for a two-seater sports car.
The British company previewed what a more enthusiast-oriented coupe could look like when it introduced the EXP 10 Speed 6 concept at the 2015 edition of the Geneva Auto Show. A topless evolution of the Speed 6 (pictured) powered by an all-electric drivetrain was shown last month in Geneva.
Both concepts have generated an overwhelmingly positive response among current and prospective buyers, which encourages Bentley to move forward with the project. However, certain criteria need to be met before it's approved by parent company Volkswagen.
"From within Bentley, definitely yes [there's momentum]. But we're part of a big group and it has to work with the rest of the group ... Because we are a portfolio of brands, we can't be overtly competing against each other," explained Uday Senapati, the head of technical operations at Bentley's Mulliner division, in an interview with Australian website Motoring.
He pointed out Bentley wouldn't be allowed to sell a model that competes directly against the Audi R8, for example. The company needs to find a new niche if it wants to build the two-seater that customers are practically begging for.
One option is to build an all-electric sports car. It's no secret that Bentley is gradually shifting towards electrification, and a battery-powered coupe could serve as a rolling display of the company's technological prowess. The R8 isn't expected to go electric or hybrid in the foreseeable future, so the two models would compete in distinctly different segments.
Senapati stressed that a final decision hasn't been made yet. Bentley's two-seater could launch with a gasoline-burning engine after all, and it might also remain at the concept stage. If it's approved for production, it won't reach showrooms for another two years at the very least.