Bentley Unlikely To Hit Even More Modest Sales Target.
“The Middle East is a big worry. It’s a big market, but even the Saudis are running out of money”
Bentley, British-based luxury car making subsidiary of Volkswagen currently launching the world’s most expensive and fastest SUV the Bentayga, has trimmed its sales targets for 2020 because some important markets like China, Europe and the Middle East won’t come up to expectations, but even these more modest targets will be difficult to hit.
Just over three months ago, as Bentley was getting ready to take the covers off the Bentayga at the Frankfurt Car Show, it boasted that overall output would climb to about 20,000 a year by 2020 from just over 11,000 last year. Bentayga sales would account for between 4,000 and 5,000 of that.
At a media briefing in London earlier this month Bentley Sales and Marketing Director Kevin Rose said that target will now be delayed until 2025.
But consultancy IHS Automotive reckons those projections will be missed by some distance, with Bentley sales reaching a total of just under 14,000 by 2020, and only 15,500 by 2025. The Bentayga will also fall short, with just under 3,500 sold in 2020 and just over 4,100 in 2025. IHS data doesn’t include possible new models like a smaller SUV, but does include sales of the mooted EXP 10 Speed Roadster.
The Bentley model range includes various derivatives of the Continental range including the Flying Spur, and the Mulsanne.
Rose said sales in important markets like China had disappointed, Europe too, but the U.S. was in good shape.
According to IHS, the U.S. will be Bentley’s biggest market in 2020 with close to 4,000 sales that year, rising a bit to just over 4,000 by 2025. China will by then be almost as important, rising from just over 3,000 in 2020 to 4,000 in 2025.
The fall in the oil price is also hurting Bentley sales.
“The Middle East is a big worry. It’s a big market, but even the Saudis are running out of money,” Rose said.
The Middle East accounts for just over 10 per cent of Bentley sales.
Why are IHS Auto’s projections so at variance with Bentley’s.
IHS auto analyst Tim Urquhart said his numbers are conservative.
“You can have different opinions. We’re more on the bearish side of things, we’re being cautious. There’s lots of potential macro instability in the world, especially China. Bentley might have a slightly different economic model and they may have model plans that we don’t yet have visibility on. For example there is a smaller SUV model rumored. If they build that vehicle I am sure their 20,000 unit a year target will be in sight,” Urquhart said in an interview.
Urquhart also said the Bentayga will do well, but because it will soon be joined in the new market for ultra-luxury SUVs by BMW’s Rolls-Royce, Aston Martin, VW stable-mate Lamborghini, and FCA’s Maserati, sales will be harder to make. Mercedes upmarket subsidiary Maybach is also said to be considering entering the market.
“The Bentayga will be a huge success and will be the best selling of the ultra luxury SUVs coming out. But one of the reasons we’re so conservative about its prospects is that there are a whole raft of competitors coming on the market too, so Bentley is not going to have it all to themselves. The whole upper segment is getting crowded, and there is a growing market for customization in this segment which is likely to increase the choices available in the ultra-premium SUV market.”
The Bentayga will go on sale around the world early next year, starting in Europe, then the Middle-East, with China and the U.S. following by late in the second quarter.
Prices start at $229,100, before tax, in the U.S. For that you get what Bentley says is the most luxurious and most sporty SUV in the world. It has a 6.0 liter, 12-cylinder twin-turbo engine which develops 600 hp and will blast you from rest to 60 mph in four seconds. Half of the cylinders can shut down in the interests of “economy”. That means a combined 16 miles per U.S. gallon.
The Bentayga, named after a mountain peak in the Spanish Canary Islands in the Atlantic close to Morocco, could reach 187 mph if you were minded to on an unlimited German highway. Other engines available later will be a V8 diesel, and hybrid, all using an eight speed automatic gearbox. No word yet on an all-electric version.
Bentley doesn’t spare the hyperbole in describing its new vehicle, talking about its “exquisite luxury” and “elegance”, except in this case, it probably isn’t hype. Open a door and it reeks of class, with its “intricate detailing and precision in wood, metal and leather which creates a modern, luxurious handcrafted interior”.