Volkswagen Group CEO Herbert Diess plans to put Bentley under the control of Audi, company sources told Automobilwoche, a sister publication of Automotive News.
Currently Porsche CEO Oliver Blume has responsibility for the U.K.-based ultraluxury brand on VW Group's management board.
Diess believes Bentley has the potential for a fresh start under Audi, according to the sources. Audi would oversee Bentley's technological and financial activities starting next year, the sources said.
Diess aims to streamline VW Group's brand portfolio, which stretches from luxury brands including Bentley, Audi and Porsche to the mass-market VW, Skoda and Seat marques.
VW is said to be reviewing whether its Lamborghini, Bugatti and Ducati niche high-performance brands have a future within the company as the automaker increasingly focuses on electric, digital and autonomous vehicles.
Bentley returned to profit last year but will probably still lose money this year because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, CEO Adrian Hallmark told Automotive News Europe in June. Brexit is also weighing on the brand, with Hallmark warning that if the U.K. leaves the European Union's single market next year without a trade deal, profits could be cut by up to a quarter.
Two years ago Porsche hired a consulting firm to map out scenarios for Bentley's future. These included ending volume production at the brand's factory in Crewe, England, and turning the plant into a specialist manufacturer for special bodies, one-offs, armoring, small series and long-wheelbase vehicles.
Hallmark prevented the proposal from being carried out by improving the factory's efficiency, reducing costs and cutting 1,000 jobs, equivalent to a quarter of the workforce, according to VW sources.