Bentley Continental GTC Speed ​​​​in the Kingfisher.

Adam Jeffery | CNBC

Bentley Motors is postponing its plans to offer exclusively all-electric vehicles by the end of this decade due to changing market conditions and a delay in its first electric vehicle.

CEO Adrian Hallmark said the iconic British luxury automaker remains committed to carbon neutrality and offers only electric vehicles, but plans to do so a few years down the line. Bentley will continue to offer plug-in hybrids alongside BEVs or battery-electric vehicles beyond its previous 2030 target, Hallmark said.

“Whether we deliver all BEVs by 2031 or not, we may still have some hybrid vehicles that we would not have had after 2030,” he said during a media briefing. “But not for 10 years, maybe just a few years when we use them up.”

Bentley is among a growing number of automakers changing, delaying or abandoning ambitious electric vehicle plans as global adoption grows slower than many expected.

Bentley’s first electric vehicle should hit the market next year, followed by one new all-electric model a year as part of a plan to invest $3.4 billion by 2030. The company now expects its first electric vehicle to hit the market in 2026, delaying the release of subsequent vehicles as well.

Bentley CEO Adrian Hallmark.

Scott Mlyn | CNBC

According to Hallmark, the delay in Bentley’s first all-electric vehicle was due to software issues as well as difficulties in developing the vehicle’s architecture to Bentley standards. He said those challenges were the main reason for the delay in its electric vehicle plans, rather than changing market conditions.

Hallmark said Bentley will increase its investment in plug-in hybrids by hundreds of millions of dollars in the coming years. He said that given the increased investment, the company needed to “run a little longer” to achieve the desired return on capital.

Bentley currently offers plug-in hybrid versions of its $203,200 Bentayga SUV and its $221,200 Flying Spur sedan. Both include engines as well as EV components and electric range.

Bentley still plans to end production of traditional internal combustion engines, including its famous V-12 engines next month and non-hybrid V-8 engines in July or August.

An employee checks a Bentayga SUV on the Bentley production line at its factory in Crewe, England, on December 7, 2022.

Phil Noble | Reuters

At the same time, Bentley’s EV plans update was announced VolkswagenCompany financial results for 2023.

These results include global deliveries of 13,560 vehicles, down 11% from the record of nearly 15,200 vehicles in 2022. Sales were $3.21 billion, down 13% year-over-year, at a Operating income of $644.7 million, down 17%.

Hallmark called 2023 a great year for the company, but also “a year of massive performance fluctuations across the luxury market” that impacted the business. He cited challenges including changing sales dynamics in China as well as macroeconomic concerns and higher interest rates for the 30% of buyers who lease their vehicles.

Bentley’s performance in 2023 significantly exceeded that of 2021, when the company sold more vehicles but made a smaller profit. According to Hallmark, the increase in sales and profits compared to two years ago is a direct result of customers opting for more customization and upgrades to their vehicles.

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