Digital Is The New Analogue

Bentley’s 100th birthday present to itself showcases the road ahead for the storied marque. Steve Vermeulen donned a paper party hat and went to Crewe to see the sensational EXP 100 GT concept vehicle for himself

You may have heard we are amidst an automotive revolution where cars are becoming less and less analogue by the minute.

While some might expect it to be harder now for Bentley to maintain the hands-on craftsmanship they have forged over the last century in tomorrow’s world of autonomy, the company doesn’t prescribe to that theory.

In fact, Bentley is doubling down on both, as revealed to the world’s media at its Crewe headquarters for the unveiling of the striking EXP 100 GT concept vehicle.

While this 5.8-metre long polished aluminium and copper behemoth is not planned for production, it does signify the start point of Bentley’s technology and design roadmap to take them through to 2035.

And with luxurious, sustainable materials such as paint that was formulated from rice husks, 5000-year-old rescued wood infused with copper and various built-by-hand components, Bentley’s production workers aren’t at risk of becoming mere parts fitters anytime soon.

‘Digital Craftspeople’ will be at the heart of Bentley’s future strategy and they will forge the future of luxury mobility, which focusses heavily on experience and luxury services.

For example, the EXP 100 GT offers a Bentley virtual assistant, allows real-time health and wellbeing monitoring via bio-metric seats and the smart glass roof. It engages your children with live educational content such as explaining cloud formations as they pass overhead. Meanwhile, your personal A.I profile, and memories captured from previous drives, can even be reused to replicate a sun-soaked driving experience even if the real world is grey and overcast.

Bentley is also introducing light as a new material with which to convey ‘luxury’. All new generations of models will start to deploy an illuminated version of the familiar ‘Flying B’ bonnet emblem and the use of light will only grow more conspicuous from there. The EXP 100 GT’s seat and dashboard materials are also interwoven with fibre optic lighting to create a calming cabin environment.

When you’re not cooling a combustion engine, the front grille presents further possibilities to play with lighting as well as 3D printing of all manner of materials. The EXP 100 GT’s headlights are hand-cut Cumbrian crystal and the swooping rear is accented with high definition OLED screens to replace traditional rear lamps, delivering improved visibility.

The EXP 100 GT offers 100kW of power supplied via fuel cell and a further 500kW via four electric motors.

Between today and 2035, Bentley envisage hybrid fuel cell together with batteries as the best mid-term powertrain solution to the luxury sector. The EXP 100 GT is no exception with 100kW of power supplied via fuel cell and a further 500kW via four electric motors. Batteries can be charged via the hydrogen fuel cell or from the plug.

It all looks hyper-futuristic, but in reality, Bentley hasn’t made a spaceship. While too cost prohibitive to scale for immediate production, the technology and production techniques showcased are all within arm’s reach right now.

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