The 6.0-liter W12 that powers Bentley's most prestigious vehicles has officially been discontinued. By April next year, the luxury automaker will no longer produce a 12-cylinder engine. Very few build slots of the W12 remain and the motor's production line will be replaced with capacity for V6 and V8 assembly.
The unusual engine is being killed due to the brand's electrification efforts. In the automaker's own words: "The decision comes as a part of Bentley's acceleration towards a sustainable future." It continues to state that when the W12 dies, every Bentley will be available with hybrid propulsion. Bentley's parent company, VW, is even beginning to phase out its VR6, from which the W12 is based.
Over 100,000 examples of the engine have been produced at Bentley's Crewe plant since it was first launched in 2003. The final version, bound for the ultra-luxurious Batur, produces 740 horsepower and 737 pound-feet of torque.
Outside of the Batur, the 649 hp version of the engine is still available in a limited number of Continental GTs, Bentaygas, and Flying Spurs. The 30 Bentley employees who currently build the W12 will be reassigned to other areas of the company.
With the loss of its W12, Bentley is the first ultra-luxury automaker to divest completely of its 12-cylinder engines. Rolls Royce, Bentley's closest competitor, still uses a BMW-sourced V12. That being said, Rolls has just unveiled its first EV, the Spectre. There's no telling if the brand's 6.75-liter twin-turbo V12, also known as the N74, has much longer to live.
If Bentley's actions are any indication, though, BMW's ultra-luxury brand could follow suit within a few years. EVs are just as powerful, whisper quiet, and smooth as butter. They're well-suited to luxury cars, and some brands can't resist the appeal.
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