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2013-07-24 14:37

LUXURY SUV FOR THE INCREDIBLY WEALTHY: Bentley’s SUV will borrow styling from the 2012 EXP 9 F concept, albeit with major revisions to the design. Image: AFP

Luxury car maker Bentley's plans for a new ultra-luxurious sports utility vehicle for the super rich will be closely watched by rivals mulling a similar move, analysts said.

Bentley, known for its stately sedans, announced it will go ahead with plans to build "the most luxurious and most powerful SUV in the market."

Automotive expert Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer said: "SUVs are the fastest-growing segment in the car market but one which super-luxury automakers have not really ventured into.


"There's a gap which Bentley is now trying to fill and other automakers are watching attentively. Bentley is the first, but the others will follow."

Porsche, like Bentley also belongs to Volkswagen, has seen its sales boosted by its Cayenne SUV. Lamborghini, yet another racehorse in VW’s stable, and Maserati are similarly eyeing the SUV market.

The SUV will borrow styling from the 2012 EXP 9 F concept, albeit with major revisions to the design. Target customers will be wealthy customers in China and Russia.

Bentley did not give any indication just yet of the anticipated purchase price, but Dudenhoeffer put it at an equivalent of R2.3-million.

Bentley said: "The SUV will be a thoroughbred Bentley true to the brand hallmarks of luxury, performance, quality and craftsmanship. The styling will set it apart from any other SUV on the road."

The automaker said the new range will require an investment equivalent of R1.9-billion and the SUV is to be built in Crewe, in Britain, where it would create "over 1000 jobs."

Bentley's pursuit of an SUV had been up in the air, as the company awaited a green light from Volkswagen and debated where production would be based.

Media reports had also seen VW's plant in Bratislava in the Czech Republic as a possible production site. The plant is where other SUVs within the group, such as the VW Touareg, Audi Q7 and Porsche Cayenne, are built.


VW chief executive Martin Winterkorn said: "The Volkswagen Group believes in the UK as a competitive location for industrial production. Bentley fans all around the world are looking forward to the brand's first SUV."
British prime minister David Cameron said the plans were "fantastic news for both Crewe and for the UK as a whole. It is another important milestone in strengthening our economy.

"I am delighted that Bentley will be building their new vehicle here, not only creating a thousand jobs, but safe-guarding many more."

A spokesman for Bentley said it was too early to say how many of the new SUVs would actually roll off the production line each year.

Its chief has suggested the model would enable Bentley to double annual sales to 15 000 by 2018.

A spokesperson said: "Many of our customers say they want a Bentley SUV."

Read more on:    porsche  |  bentley  |  volkswagen  |  suv  |  new models

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