Bentley Chief Talks Shop About Possible New SUV & Sports Car Models
Wolfgang Durheimer believes there’s plenty of room for both models in the company’s lineupby Kirby, on
Bentley has made no bones about expanding its lineup. What was once a company that only had the Continental as a model, Bentley has slowly built up a lineup that now includes the Mulsanne, Flying Spur, and the recently launched Bentayga SUV. With all four models already in the market, the British automaker is looking ahead to a fifth, and possibly sixth model. The only question, which one is going to come first. Autocar caught up with Bentley chief Wolfgang Dürheimer to discuss which of the two models – a sportier version of the Bentayga, or a production version of the EXP 10 Speed 6 concept – is Bentley preparing first.
According to Dürheimer, no decision has been made on that front but he did indicate that both models could be developed one after the other. For a long time, it was believed to be that the sporty SUV was the next model up for Bentley. But the success and overwhelmingly positive reception the EXP 10 Speed 6 Concept received at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show has given Bentley a good problem on its hands.
Fortunately, we won’t have to wait too long for an answer as Dürheimer promised an answer “by the end of the year.” And for what it’s worth, the automaker is already working on both, but finances and manpower prevent them from doing both models at the same time. Still, it’s good to know that Bentley isn’t making an “either-or” choice on the matter. It plans to build both; it just depends on which model it wants to do first.
Either way, expect both the sporty Bentayga SUV and the sports car, reportedly named the Barnato, to both arrive by 2020. That timetable ties into the company’s plan to grow its sales volume to 20,000 sold units per year by 2025. Likewise, the timetable for both cars figures into Bentley’s other plan of investing £840 million in infrastructure, processes and technical equipment by the end of 2018.
The wheels are definitely spinning over in Crewe, U.K. as Bentley continues to ramp up its long-term plan of becoming a bigger player in the premium markets of the auto industry.
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Why it matters
Wolfgang Dürheimer didn’t mince his words. He said that Bentley will build both cars, just not at the same time. But both will come in the future, which would give the British automaker a total of six different models by the time the next decade hits. It’s a bold statement but it’s also a necessary one given the company’s well-chronicled growth strategy. On that front, it’s tough to argue against Dürheimer. He’s made it a mission to see this strategy through and from the looks of things, he’s leading the way in shaping Bentley up to handle the increased production that comes with having more models in the market.
That £840 million ($1.132 billion) investment is a huge amount but a lot of it will be tied into improving critical items in the scope of production to help address the company’s growth strategy. Heck, Bentley’s even building a new paint shop that Dürheimer says will be the envy of other automakers. That’s the kind of commitment to the cause Bentley needs from its CEO and the fact that he’s not circling around the issues shows that he’s in it to see the process through until the company is in a far better position to meet its objectives.
It’s also worth noting that Dürheimer also discussed the next-generation Continental GT with Autocar, saying that the new model – to be based on the same MSB platform as the second-generation Porsche Panamera – will be leaps and bounds better than its predecessor. That’s an admittedly high bar to set, but Dürheimer is confident that with the ride, chassis tune, connectivity, and entertainment, the second-generation GT will more than live up to the expectations that come with being the face of Bentley’s overall lineup. And if he’s confidence isn’t running high enough for the Continental GT, he even predicted that the new Continental will have the highest-volume uptake for the model in its 13-year history.
This is a man who’s talking with his chest puffed out and for what it’s worth, I can’t blame him. Bentley’s on the upswing as a company and this ongoing model expansion is living proof that the British automaker’s goal of becoming a bigger player in the premium markets of the business is slowly coming into form.
Read our full review on the Bentley Bentayga here.