DETROIT -- Bentley, Volkswagen's British luxury brand, earned a much bigger profit last year than in 2004.
"In return on revenue and capital, we are now among the best at Volkswagen," Bentley CEO Franz-Josef Paefgen said in an interview with Automobilwoche at the Detroit auto show.
Automobilwoche, like Automotive News, is owned by Crain Communications Inc.
Bentley achieved the 6.5 percent return on revenues that the company had called for.
"And it keeps climbing," Paefgen said.
The financial result of the venerable British brand is consolidated into the profit and loss sheet of the VW brand group and won't be published separately.
Bentley sold 8,627 cars worldwide last year, up 31 percent from the previous year.
The success is attributed to the new Flying Spur luxury sedan and to continuing strong demand for the Continental GT coupe.
The brand is also the only part of the much-criticized VW luxury strategy that is yielding profits. Bentley reached profitability in 2004, one year earlier than planned.
VW bought Bentley and its sister brand, Rolls-Royce, in 1998 after a bidding war with BMW.
Under a deal between the two German carmakers, BMW became the sole manufacturer of Rolls-Royce cars at the end of 2002.
BMW has had less luck with its luxury brand.
Last year, Rolls-Royce sold 796 vehicles, well below the brand's target of 1,000 cars.
But for Bentley, the record run continues. The Azure convertible, which arrives in the United States in the third quarter, is already sold out for the year.
The 2+2 convertible version of the Continental GT will debut as the GTC late this year in the United States.
To keep up with demand, Bentley is building Flying Spurs at VW's so-called Glass Factory in Dresden, Germany, where the slow-selling VW Phaeton is built.
"In 2007, we will no longer need Dresden," Paefgen said.
By then the capacity of the Bentley plant in Crewe, England, will be sufficient, he said.
The capacity stands at 9,000 to 9,500 units a year.
Paefgen expects that the volume for existing models will level off at 7,000 to 7,500 cars over the next few years.
You may e-mail Guido Reinking at [email protected]