Biofuels for Bentley

The long arm of the green car movement has reached into the furthest recesses of the automobile industry. Meaning, ultra-luxurious brands like Bentley Motors. The Volkwagen-owned, Britain-based carmaker produces some of the world’s most expensive automobiles, but being super high-end does not mean the company is exempt from having to move in a more socially-conscious direction. To that end, Bentley Motors is pushing forward with a new environmental strategy centered around biofuels.

This is not an assertion that manufacturers of luxury cars – with their extremely low production numbers – are going to make any sort of significant impact on the world’s energy crisis by embracing such initiatives. Rather, the fact that Bentley and Ferrari, and others soon to follow suit, are being pressured to dance the dance, is a kind of a barometer on the strength of a more responsible global philosophy on the world’s corporate structure.

“It’s about corporate responsibility,” Brian Gush, Bentley’s Chief Engineer and Head of Powertrain, told Hybridcars.com. “This is something we must do. Our buyers demand it. The industry demands it. And it’s the right thing.”

And, of course, the governments demand it. Laws around the world, especially in Europe and the US are imposing stricter standards on emissions. Many of these new directives will take effect in the next three years.

Bentley weighed virtually all of the current alternative fuel technologies – hybrids, pure electric, hydrogen, and diesel – before determining biofuels as the right approach. “We wanted to meet the needs of both sides of the Atlantic,” Gush explains. “The US is more keyed –in on reducing its oil dependency, while Europe is more aimed at reducing CO2 emissions. Biofuels address both of these concerns in the most comprehensive way, we believe.” The ideology is one that focuses on cutting greenhouse emissions on a well-to-wheel basis, rather then just at the tailpipe.

Bentley has built its strategy with a British government study, known as the Gallagher report, as its cornerstone. This report concludes that there is a future for a sustainable biofuel industry, by asserting that biofuels can be produced in a method that is both ethically and ecologically sound. Meaning, having a minimal effect on natural habitats and local biodiversity. Examples of successful ethanol industries cited include those of Brazil and Sweden.

Although the biofuel industry has faced mounting criticism in recent times, the Gallagher report uses scientific data to suggest that biofuel production causes far less of a disruption to the world’s food chain than fluctuating oil prices or an increase in food demand.

With biofuels, Bentley promises to cut CO2 emissions by at least 15 percent across the entire vehicle line by 2012, as well as offer a new powertrain that improves fuel economy by 40 percent. “Without any detriment to performance,” Gush adds.