The Queen is to set to ‘go green’ by having her two gas-guzzling state Bentleys converted to run on biofuels. This is part of a move by the British luxury car-maker to become more environmentally friendly – and a new biofuel-burning high-performance car is expected in the New Year.
The Volkswagen-owned, Crewe-based company is to produce a new range of engines which will offer a 40 per cent improvement in fuel economy by 2012, with all new vehicles able to run on the plant-derived fuel. But the ‘flex-fuel’ system, as it’s called, will also allow the vehicles to run on conventional petrol.
Bentley executives said the Royal Family had been extremely supportive of moves to go green and it would be relatively simple to replace the engines of the two state limousines that they presented to the Queen and continue to maintain.
Prince Charles has already converted one of his Aston Martins to run on bio-ethanol made from surplus English wine. His other cars – Jaguars, an Audi and a Range Rover – have been converted to use old cooking fat.
Stuart McCullough, Bentley board member for sales and marketing, said the company’s own customer base included highly placed opinion-formers: ‘We have the ear of some very influential people at a level lobbyists can’t reach – not just in this country but abroad.’
The Queen’s two state limousines are worth about £10million each. The first was a gift from the manufacturer for her Golden Jubilee in 2002.
She was so taken with it that she persuaded the company to revamp a mothballed prototype so she could have two – ensuring there was always one on hand when she was travelling from one end of the country to the other. The second car was bought from the company. Powered by a 400bhp twin-turbo 6.75litre V8 engine, it manages between 20mph and 25mpg.
A Bentley executive said: ‘We have a lot of support from the Royal Family for our biofuel strategy. It is something about which they all take a keen interest.’
Bringing a new meaning to the term ‘British Racing Green’, the company’s biofuel report says: ‘Bentley will introduce a new powertrain offering a 40 per cent fuel economy improvement by 2012. Also, by 2012, 100 per cent of the range will be compatible with renewable fuels, delivering significant savings in CO2 emissions.’