What does a car maker which specialises in ultra-luxurious, powerful and, by definition, thirsty cars do when the world goes mad and starts to see its products as anathema?
Bentley finds itself in this ludicrous position. Of course, the current credit problems play a big part in Bentley’s problems, either because buyers need finance to buy their cars or, more likely, the demonising of the sort of cars Bentley makes by the eco-mentalists makes them an uncomfortable buy. So Bentley has come up with a strategy to combat the ‘Planet Killing’ perception many have of its products – Bio-Fuels.
Bentley has announced it will be showing a bio-ethanol car in Geneva in March, and is aiming to reduce Co2 emissions of its cars by 40% over the next three years. And in a bit of PR nonsense, they are talking about supplying the Royal Household with bio-ethanol capabilities for the Bentleys it runs.
Bentley does have a point on bio-fuels though. As things stand at the moment (I know, I keep banging on about it), all regulators and the eco crowd seem concerned about is tail-pipe emissions. They claim electric cars to be zero emission, whilst ignoring the cost of producing the electricity needed. Bentley are talking about well-to-wheels emissions and are quite right in claiming that bio fuels are more advantageous than electric/hybrid cars (unless they are Hydrogen based).
Bentley seem to accept that this is a stop-gap solution. As we’ve said before, bio-fuels are unsustainable on any sort of scale. We simply don’t have the land space to grow enough to fuel the world’s vehicles. And it also seems clear that when you factor in the real cost of bio-fuels on the environment, the use of pesticides to grow the crops makes them more polluting than petrol (unless you go the GM route, and that’s a whole other can of worms!). But this route, coupled with the EU arrangements for sub 10,000 vehicle manufacturers (which Bentley will probably remain for some time in the current climate), gives the company a way forward.
But it would be a lot better if we had a more rational look at this issue, instead of being led by zealots with a completely biased and entrenched position. Some hope.