Cars have never been safer or more capable. They’ve also never been more complex. The Continental GT, which is now five years old has 50 processors and computers onboard. The all new 2017 Bentley Bentayga adds 40 more for an incredible total of 90 computers.
Many of the Bentayga’s computers are related to its sophisticated off-road systems. Others control everything from the sunroof to the rear seat climate control and entertainments systems. All those systems have to talk and Bentley engineers had to design an efficient way to not only lay out the SUV’s wiring loom but to make it easy to be manufactured.
In addition to making the Bentayga as time-efficient to assemble, engineers also had to account for the weight of all the wiring and the fact that the Bentayga can be configured in a number of ways from Beverly Hills city pavement pounder to seriously kitted off-roader. As Car and Driver magazine pointed out, “the Bentayga offers four long-range radar systems, up to 12 short-range ultrasonic parking sensors, six camera systems, dozens of lighting elements, a 48-volt roll-control suspension system, a champagne fridge, an 18-speaker stereo, a watch winder, and seats that can warm, cool, and massage occupants.”
When you list everything out like that, you can see why Bentley says the Bentayga’s code is over 100 million lines. The code operates over the Bentayga’s massive wiring system which is actually the combination of seven separate networks.
“Each network has a different primary use, but all are integrated to work together. We don’t have one sensor for one function; each sensor feeds information into several different functions, “says Stuart White, team lead of the Bentayga’s electrical system.
The solution was to have the team assembling the wiring to build each loom for a specific VIN. The full wiring loom is then delivered to the assembly area on a pallet specific to that particular Bentayga’s options. The wires aren’t soft and flexible like you would think they would be. Instead, they are stiff and in the shape of the car itself, so each pallet is built to the size of the Bentayga.
The wiring harness actually weighs about 110 lbs. That sounds like a lot but it could be heavier as all that modern computer code allows the Bentayga’s systems to talk to each other over shared wires without the use of multiple relays and buses. These CAD drawings sure don’t convey that though.
There are many Bentley faithful who have complained that Bentley has not kept up with the technology present in competition German luxury brands. Those days are changing thanks to help from sister companies Audi and Porsche. That also means we’ll be seeing more complicated wiring diagrams like these on future Bentley models. Let’s hope they’re designed to stand the test of time like the rest of a Bentley.