Autos

Bentley to end production of ultra-performance 12-cylinder engine as it transitions to EVs

Key Points
  • Bentley Motors plans to end production of its 12-cylinder engine next April as the famed luxury carmaker transitions to electric vehicles.
  • The British automaker of ultra-luxury performance cars said the milestone would be celebrated with the most powerful version of the W12 engine ever created.
  • The end of the W12 is the latest example of automakers pivoting to all-electric vehicles.
A staff member checks a Bentayga SUV on the Bentley production line at their factory in Crewe, Britain, December 7, 2022. 
Phil Noble | Reuters

Bentley Motors plans to end production of its 12-cylinder engine next April as the famed luxury carmaker transitions to electric vehicles.

The British automaker of ultra-luxury performance cars said the milestone would be celebrated with the most powerful version of the W12 engine ever created, with 740 horsepower and 737 pound-feet of torque.

Bentley said the upgraded engine will only be used in 18 Bentley Baturs — handcrafted two-seat performance cars that start at about $2 million. The vehicles are already sold, the prestigious automaker said.

"The time has come to retire this now-iconic powertrain as we take strides toward electrification," Bentley Chairman and CEO Adrian Hallmark said in a release.  

The end of the W12 is the latest example of automakers pivoting to all-electric vehicles. Bentley last year said it would spend 2.5 billion pounds (about $3 billion) over the next decade to become a fully electric luxury brand by 2030.

The company, which is owned by Volkswagen, said a limited number of W12 engines with 649 horsepower are available for versions of the Continental GT, Bentayga and Flying Spur.

Production of the W12 engine will be replaced with expanded assembly of V8 and V6 hybrid engines, according to the company. Bentley says it has produced more than 100,000 of the W12 engines since the assembly began in 2003.

Christophe Georges, CEO of Bentley Americas, declined to comment on when the company plans to phase out the V8 and V6 engine, beyond reiterating the previously announced plan of 2030.

"There is a global move toward electrification," he told CNBC Wednesday. "We need to invest at the right time."

The company said it plans to transition the 30 employees who manufacture the engine at its famed Crewe, England, plant to other operations.

Bentley's all-electric vision is in line with other automakers, but it differs greatly from its famed rival, Ferrari. The Italian sports car manufacturer, which currently produces V6, V8 and V12 engines, has said it will continue to do so as long as there is sufficient demand for them.

"Bentley will remain Bentley," Georges said. "It is a harmony of sporty performance, at the same time it is luxurious, innovative and so on. All this package will remain."