BENTLEY SUV READY TO ROLL: Spy photographers spotted Bentley's new crossover SUV at the Nurburgring circuit in Germany. Image: Automedia
LONDON, England - Bentley expects its first SUV to help almost double the brand's sales by 2020 after reporting record deliveries in 2014.
VW-owned Bentley expects to increase sales to 20 000 a year by the end of the decade, a spokesman said, after previously targeting 15 000 by 2018. Bentley CEO Wolfgang Duerheimer said: "We think the success of the SUV will lift us into a new dimension."
Duerheimer said the automaker's new SUV would be unveiled in 2015, possibly at the 2015 Geneva auto show in March.
More than 4000 potential buyers have already expressed interest in the SUV without having seen it, Bentley said, leading sales chief Kevin Rose to forecast 3000 SUVs a year "could be conservative".
First deliveries of the new car will be made in 2016.
Bentley, whose customers include Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and the Sultan of Brunei, sold a record 11 020 units in 2014, nine percent more than in 2013, with growth powered by demand from China but Durheimer said geopolitical risks made it impossible to project Bentley's sales performance in 2015. Nevertheless, it was preparing for "another very strong year".
Sales in in Russia in2014, where the rouble has been hammered by slumping oil prices and Western sanctions related to the crisis in Ukraine, were in line with 2013 levels, Rose said, predicting a similar outcome for 2015.
Russian sales of 230 vehicles accounted for about two percent of Bentley's global volume while the Americas remained its biggest market in 2014, with China a close second after sales there jumped 22% compared to 2013.
Bentley's strong growth in China came despite analysts warning of an end to the country's 10-year luxury-car sales boom, hit by President Xi Jinping's crackdown on extravagance by government officials. Duerheimer said: "In terms of growth, China is still the most important and most interesting region."
Rose said Bentley had around a 35% share of China's ultra-luxury car market and that customers there tended to be entrepreneurs not affected by the crackdown as much as government employees.