CREWE, England -- How is Bentley handling the tough competition in the ultraluxury segment? Which additional models are in the Volkswagen subsidiary's plans? Automobilwoche Staff Reporter Henning Krogh spoke with Ulrich Eichhorn, the VW board member in charge of engineering at Bentley. Automobilwoche is a German sister publication to Automotive News.
Luxury brands such as Maybach and Rolls-Royce are having a tougher time than expected. How is it going for Bentley?
Our sales within the top class segment have been very satisfactory during the past few months. We love this privileged position but do not take it for granted.
What are the sales figures?
We sold around 450 units of our top model, the Arnage series, during the first nine months. We hope that sales will continue to rise. Bentley manufactured 4,400 units of the Continental GT coupe between January and September. In the new year, we will also be selling a significant number of the new four-seater. All those Bentleys have already been sold to customers. And we still have a considerable number of orders to cope with.
To minimize waiting times for the new sedan that will be launched in 2005, Bentley is considering building it at VW's Phaeton assembly plant in Dresden, Germany. How much production would you move to Dresden?
If results of the internal analysis show that such a step would make sense economically for both Bentley and the VW group, then we will start an additional final assembly in Dresden. It will be supplied with components from the English main plant.
This would not be a long-term solution but it could help to handle large orders for a certain period of time.Manufacturing left-hand drive versions of the new sedan there, for example, would be an obvious choice. However, we would not set up an additional production line for wood or leather parts in Dresden.