First Bentley EV will feature unique distinctive design

First Bentley EV will feature unique distinctive design



The brand's first EV will be one of five; its design details are being finalised

Robin Page talks to Autocar about 2025-bound EV, as well as future concepts and working with VW

Bentley’s design director of the past five months, Robin Page, can be reasonably described as a Bentley ‘lifer’, even though he was busy designing Volvos for a decade immediately before he took up his current role.

Page worked in Bentley’s Crewe HQ for 17 years of his early career, rising to become head of interior design between 2001 and 2013, the crucial years that produced the seminal Continental GT and launched Bentley into the modern era.

Now Page returns at another vital moment, just as the company gears up to launch, in 2025, the first of five electric models that will make up its model range by 2030.

To complicate matters, Bentley has recently had several design bosses arrive and depart in short order, so this is as much a time for steadiness as high creativity, as he tells Autocar in an exclusive interview.

*What stage have you reached with the first of Bentley’s pure-electric models?*

“We’re finishing the last refinements on the first car right now, and for various reasons time has been quite tight. Most of the work was done well before my arrival, but there have been some opportunities to influence a few things.”

*Does arriving in a new job make you want to change things?*

“Not necessarily. But it’s certainly interesting to come at projects with fresh eyes, almost as if you’re seeing them on a motor show stand for the first time. We’re squeezing in a few detail changes, but mainly we’re proceeding normally with our second and third cars.”

*You’ve suggested that Bentley EV styling needs specific features. What sort of things?*

“You have to be honest about the fact that an EV doesn’t need a full, open grille so there’s an opportunity for a new kind of front feature, a chance to play with lights perhaps. Then, of course, your car has to be distinctive from a distance: you want people to recognise the new full-electric Bentley for what it is. We’ll have failed if it just looks like a heritage car.”

*But you’ll still be taking full account of Bentley heritage?*

“Very much so. There are iconic elements in every successful Bentley in history. Ignore those and people will say what you’ve built isn’t a Bentley – that it has lost its identity.”

*Do you have any plans for a concept to announce a new design era?*

“I’m definitely keen to do a car that shows our new design expression and tries some new ideas, but you have to time any concept carefully: there’s always the concern someone will copy you and get your ideas into production earlier than you.

"There are two ways a company like Bentley can use concepts: via a small run of very special cars like the Batur, or as a one-off on a stage with an event running around it. We’re discussing what will work best at the moment.”

*You were at Volvo for 10 years. What is the ideal job tenure for a top designer?*

“I’ve always thought five to 10 years is a pretty good time. You need time to make a difference and to see the cars safely into production. To eat the meal you cooked, if you like. I think that’s the way our CEO, Adrian Hallmark, is thinking too.”

*Do you have freedom to cooperate with other VW Group members?*

“There’s a lot of freedom, though you have to respect some key points – wheelbases, overhangs, crash structures and so on. But these things still leave you a great deal of scope.

"And working closely with Audi, as we do now, is a strength. It creates opportunities we didn’t have before, when we worked with Porsche. Bentley’s profitability, the fact that it can pay its own way, gives it great status in the group too. I’d say we are in an excellent place.”

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