Bentley's SUV concept, the EXP-F9, is coming to life and may be joined by a new coupe-like sedan.
There was a time when Bentleys were little more than rebadged versions of old partner Rolls-Royce models. But, in recent years, the British maker has been generating significant demand with an expanded and updated line-up of offerings such as the new Flying Spur and the big Mulsanne.
Now, it seems, Bentley’s line-up is set to get significantly bigger. As we’ve already reported, the maker is moving ahead on the development of its first-ever luxury SUV, a model that will be based on the EXP 9F concept vehicle the world got a first glimpse of in Geneva at the 2012 Motor Show. But could there be still more to come?
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Apparently, yes. Reports from Europe suggesting the next model will be a coupe-like sedan – think Mercedes-Benz CLS on an even grander scale – due out in 2018, according to the U.K.’s Car magazine. (more…)
The Bentley GT Speed convertible is one of several recent additions helping buy the British marque's sales.
With new products like the GT Speed convertible, its fastest ragtop ever, Bentley recorded a big surge in demand for the first half of 2013, the maker reports.
Worldwide sales rose 9%, to 4,279, over the same period a year ago, according to the British luxury brand. But that’s still well off the record pace Bentley set in 2008, just before the global economic collapse.
“Bentley continues to post significant global sales growth and we are extremely confident we will sustain this success for the remaining months of 2013 as we see the full availability of our new Flying Spur in all markets,” declared Kevin Rose, the marque’s board member in charge of sales, marketing and aftersales.
Long an afterthought in the ultra-premium automotive market, Bentley began a rebuilding effort even before it was split off from its long-time partner Rolls-Royce and sold to Germany’s Volkswagen AG. A critical step was expanding the product range – with an emphasis on a performance heritage tracing back to Bentley’s early dominance in motorsports, including the grueling Le Mans endurance race.
Volkswagen reported a drop in income, but an increase in Q1 market share.
Volkswagen AG saw its earnings and revenue decline on a year-over-year basis during the first quarter as the European debt crisis continued to stifle sales across Europe and left the company’s Seat brand in the red.
VW’s after tax earnings fell to 1.9 billion euro, or $2.5 billion, from 3.1 billion. Overall, VW’s sales revenue in the first three months dropped 1.4% to 46.6 billion euros from 47.3 billion euros in the first quarter of 2012.
Despite the challenging conditions and intense competition VW bolstered its overall global market share, which climbed to 12.6% from 12.2%. Including China, deliveries increased by 4.8% to 2.3 million vehicles worldwide.
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“We made a healthy start to the year, but the coming months will be anything but easy. The current environment is definitely a tough challenge for the entire industry,” said VW Chairman Martin Winterkorn, adding he remained optimistic about the company’s outlook.
It was a scene I did not expect, but should have given the prodigious performance of the 2013 Bentley Continental GT Speed. Not satisfied with the mere 198 mph top speed of the “base” Continental GT, Bentley’s team of engineers, led by the effervescent Brian Gush, massaged the potent twin-turbo W12 engine in the GT Speed to output 616 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque. Top speed after the upgrades: 205 mph.
We were encouraged by the Bentley media team to safely explore the upper limits of this beast, keeping in mind that our primary test route, the famous Autobahn network of highways across Germany, did have some sections with well-enforced speed limits.
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My driving partner and I were a bit late as we approached our departure from scenic Bavaria, Germany, as we had taken a bit too much time shooting video of the new GT Speed during our lunch stop. So to make our international flight back home, we bypassed the route chosen by Bentley and tried typing the direct destination into the car’s GPS.
Bentley CEO Woflgang Durheimer prepares to move on for a new job at Audi.
In the scheme of things, Wolfgang Durheimer wasn’t at Bentley all that long but he will be leaving a legacy that will see the ultra-luxury maker continue to undergo major changes for years to come. That includes its controversial entry into the SUV segment.
Now, Durheimer sets off for Audi, another premium brand in the Volkswagen AG empire – where observers expect him to again leave an indelible stamp.
As the result of an unexpected, corporate-wide management shake-up , Durheimer will leave Bentley next month to become the R&D chief at Audi – a job similar to what he’d previously held with Porsche. His hope, he said during an interview, is to have “made Bentley sustainable for the future.”
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The key to that, he contends, is the launch of the British maker’s third product line, an all-new sport-utility vehicle, which Durheimer promises will be, “the most expensive SUV in the world,” with an expected base price of between 170,000 and 200,000 Euros, or roughly $220,000 to $260,000 at current exchange rates.
Daimler tried to save the Maybach brand with the 2010 launch of the Zeppelin, which even had an optional, $10,000 automatic perfume atomizer.
Daimler AG has officially called it quits on the grand plan to create a luxury car brand to rival the likes of the vaunted Rolls-Royce and Bentley. The German maker has “discontinued” production of all Maybach products.
The question is whether anyone other than the media will notice. Despite its most ambitious efforts, the Maybach marque barely generated 10% to 20% of the sales the maker had ambitiously anticipated, apparently leading Daimler to pull the plug even earlier than originally expected.
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The end came almost exactly a decade after Maybach made its splashy U.S. launch, a helicopter sent to pluck the first of the massive vehicles off the QE2 ocean liner as it entered the Hudson River and deliver the sedan to a media introduction in New York City.
The original, pre-War Maybach Zeppelin was the first V12-powered German car. The new Maybach Zeppelin gained little traction with the luxury market.
The long-struggling Maybach brand will soon be euthanized – though few will likely notice considering the German luxury maker’s continually weak performance.
Parent Daimler AG has finally given up on the marque which was originally conceived as an all-new alternative to better-known Bentley and Rolls-Royce – future efforts focusing on a new, high-line version of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
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“We came to the strong conclusion that the sales chances for the Mercedes brand are much stronger than those for Maybach,” Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche said in an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
Dr. Franz-Josef Paefgen (right) hands over the keys to his successor as Bentley CEO Wolfgang Durheimer.
Bentley, the classic British luxury carmaker, wants to add a sport-utility vehicle to its line-up, a move it predicts could yield a 50% increase in demand over its all-time sales record, the maker’s chief executive told TheDetroitBureau.com.
The new model could come as a surprise to those who expect to see Bentley stick with classic luxury designers, like the big Mulsanne and smaller Continental lines, “But I think people will adapt to the shock,” as they have when other brands like Porsche have introduced SUVs to their line-up, said Bentley CEO Wolfgang Durheimer, during a pair of exclusive interviews at the annual Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance over the weekend.
Durheimer should know. In his previous incarnation as the top engineer at Porsche he led the development of the Cayenne, that sport-ute now the top-seller in the German maker’s line-up. When initially told of the project, said Durheimer, Porsche dealers, “warned us it’s dangerous, but five years later we doubled the size of the company.”
Targets for the Bentley SUV aren’t quite as aggressive, but the maker still hopes to boost global sales to 15,000 a year with the new ute, compared with the previous all-time high of about 10,000.
Amidst all of the fashion, food and art, Range Rover will introduce its new Evoque sport utility coupe.
Is this a car show, or is it really a reason to examine ladies in the latest fashions and munch on exquisite food in the world center for fashion and food?
Certainly, there will be some significant and beautiful cars unveiled at the Paris Motor Show – to name a few, Lamborghini, Lotus and General Motors are all planning major announcements - but this is the City of Lights and beautiful frocks and delicious food are sure to be part of the fun.
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As part of the festivities, Range Rover is unveiling four street installations created by Parisian artists to celebrate the launch of the Range Rover Evoque.
Also Bentley plans to make several announcements that have nothing to do with cars. The British automaker will show what describes as “best in class” products from its partners including new watches from Breitling, Tibaldi pens, Estede eyewear and zai skis. (more…)
You won't see the new 2010 Bentley Mulsanne at next month's LA Auto Show. A number of luxury makers have abandoned this year's event.
Despite the fact that Southern California is the country’s largest luxury market, a long list of premium automakers won’t be displaying at the upcoming 2009 Los Angeles Motor Show.
Among the manufacturers pulling out of the annual event are Bentley, Ferrari and Lamborghini, though LA show organizers note that a few of their traditional high-line brands will maintain a presence at Staples Center, along with several new luxury participants.
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“Bentley won’t have a presence in LA,” confirmed the British automaker’s chief U.S. spokesman, Dave Reuter, adding that at a time when everyone is cutting budgets, Bentley is looking for “a better use of our resources.”
An official with Ferrari echoed that point, noting that the Italian brand and its sibling marque, Maserati, have pulled out of Concours Hall, the high-visibility section of the convention center where most luxury brands have traditionally displayed their wares.
“It’s just the economy. We’re cutting back on a lot of things,” the executive said, asking not to be identified by name.
(For a preview of the 2009 LA Auto Show, Click Here.)
While the final list of show participants could still change before December 2nd, when the event’s press previews begin, it now appears that LA will also see a minimal presence by Aston Martin, with the company handing things over to its dealers to pull together a display.
The decision to pull out of Los Angeles by such premium brands comes as a surprise to some observers, since the expansive L.A. metro area is such a big market for premium automobiles. And the more expensive the better. The U.S., on the whole, makes up half the market for Mercedes-Benz’s premium AMG products. But Southern California alone accounts for 25% of total global AMG sales.
But, “we just don’t sell a lot of cars off the show floor” in Los Angeles, noted an official with one of the brands pulling out of the show.
Show organizers told TheDetroitBureau.com they’re disappointed by not entirely surprised by the exodus, pointing to the impact the recession has had on the luxury car market.
“The premium market has been especially hard hit,” noted Mark Templin, general manager of Toyota’s Lexus luxury division – which is remaining in the show. The more expensive the car, on the whole, the worse the impact of the recession.
Bentley sales, for example, are down by roughly half, in the States, while Lamborghini is off more than 40% for the year.
“These makers are just being careful where they spend their money,” acknowledged LA show spokesman Brendan Flynn.
While some big names are leaving, a few key luxury marques are staying put, notably including Rolls-Royce and Porsche. And, noted Flynn, some new entrants into the high-end market are grabbing the space vacated in Concours Hall, including Spyker, the Dutch manufacturer of top-end sports cars, and Fisker Automotive, the California start-up that will launch production of its premium plug-in hybrid, the Karma, in 2010.