Bentley to stop making W12 petrol engines in move to electric

Car maker says it hopes to hold on to 30 workers involved in assembling and testing the old motors

The famed Bentley hood ornament. PA
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Production of Bentley's famed 12-cylinder petrol engine will end in April next year, the luxury car maker has said.

Over the past 20 years, more than 100,000 W12 engines have been built at the company’s factory in Crewe, Cheshire.

The decision to halt production is part of its move to electric cars.

“Our progressive journey towards sustainable luxury mobility means making changes to every area of Bentley Motors," chairman and chief executive Adrian Hallmark said.

“When we first launched the W12 back in 2003, we knew we had a mighty engine that would propel both our cars and the brand forwards at speed.

“Twenty years and more than 100,000 W12s later, the time has come to retire this now iconic powertrain as we take strides towards electrification.”

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Jim Holder, editorial director of magazine What Car?, described the W12 as “an icon of combustion engines, famed for its power, smoothness, refinement and more”.

“It should be remembered as one example of the peak of what can be achieved technically with combustion engines," Holder said.

“But Bentley and its customers are acknowledging that we are entering a new environmentally conscious era, where outright performance and luxury can still be attained, but in a less consumptive manner.”

Bentley said it hoped to “retrain and redeploy” the 30 workers involved in assembling and testing W12s.

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All of Bentley’s models will be available with the option of a hybrid powertrain when production of the petrol engine is stopped.

The company has pledged that all of its cars will be fully electric by the start of the next decade.

Sales of new petrol and diesel cars and vans in the UK will be banned from 2030, with new plug-in hybrids outlawed five years later.

Bentley, owned by the Volkswagen Group, made record sales last year.

The company, founded in 1919, said it delivered 15,174 cars in 2022.

The 4 per cent increase, compared with the previous 12 months, was driven by demand in the Americas, Europe and Asia Pacific.

Updated: February 22, 2023, 12:01 AM