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.