Did Bentley just make the most beautiful electric car charger?

Chris Davies - Mar 7, 2018
Did Bentley just make the most beautiful electric car charger?

As opportunities for design excess go, the humble electric car charger might not seem like the most obvious option, but clearly nobody told Bentley that. The car company didn’t just bring along the new Bentley Bentayga Hybrid SUV along to the Geneva Motor Show this week, but a custom-designed accessory: a charger designed by the legendary Philippe Starck. It might just be too pretty to put in your garage.

Most EV chargers are, frankly, fairly underwhelming. Invariably molded plastic boxes with a snake of cable that either dangles underneath or wraps around the housing, they’re at best inconspicuous and at worst resemble oversized wall-wart power bricks from the 1980s. The Bentley x Starck Power Dock is absolutely not that.

Indeed, you’d be forgiven for not realizing it was a charger at first glance. A sinuous, gleaming donut bulges from a golden backdrop, with a narrow display running down the center. Starck has used pressed eco-linen combined with a special thermosetting resin for the surround, while the fascia uses hot-pressure aluminum casting.

The circular shape allows the cord to be wrapped around and kept off the ground. However, because of the separation between the front panel and the rear surround, that coil of cable is hidden and looks less untidy. “I wanted the maximum of intelligence with the minimum of materiality,” Starck says of the design. “I wanted it to be a modern art piece: durable, real and avant-garde high tech.”

Meanwhile, the plug itself gets some tactile treatment too. Whereas most would typically be a chunk of molded plastic, Bentley has wrapped its plug with leather, just like its car interiors. Starck has come up with both wall-mounting and freestanding options, the latter suspending the Power Dock atop a gleaming pillar like some sort of robotic flower.

There’s reason – beyond reasonable excess – for the Power Dock’s prettiness, mind. One of the big issues electric cars face is owner plug-in apathy: they neglect to charge the car up when they park, and then it has insufficient range when they next require it. “With its tactile surfaces and inviting aesthetic,” Bentley argues, drivers will be more likely to use the Bentley x Starck charger whenever they can.

Orders for the Bentayga Hybrid will begin in the second half of 2018, with pricing to be confirmed. It’s unclear when the Bentley x Starck Power Dock will go on sale, nor how much it will cost.

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