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From Bentley to Audi, Durheimer Has Big Plans

Luxury SUV, due in 2015, to serve as his legacy.

by on Aug.23, 2012

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.

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Bentley Considering All-New Model Line

Third model may be critical to long-term success, says outgoing CEO Paefgen.

by on Jan.17, 2011

Dr. Franz-Josef Paefgen (right) hands over the keys to his successor as Bentley CEO Wolfgang Durheimer.

Bentley management will  face a critical decision in the coming months: whether to develop an all-new third product line to compliment the ultra-luxury maker’s mid-range Continental and top-line Mulsanne offerings.

The decision will be handed to a management team led by new CEO Wolfgang Durheimer, who takes over from Franz-Josef Paefgen, the executive who led the British marque through some of the most dramatic changes it has faced in nearly a century of carmaking.  Paefgen steps down as chief executive on February 1st, though he will remain a Bentley consultant.

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In a conversation at the Detroit Auto Show, Paefgen told TheDetroitBureau.com he is looking forward to retirement, which comes after “nine years develop(ing) Bentley into a company in a stable situation leading the luxury segment and strong enough to grow further.”

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Shake-Up At Bentley

Paefgen retiring, Durheimer to lead luxury maker as it struggles to regain momentum.

by on Nov.29, 2010

In with the new car, out with the old CEO. Franz-Josef Paefgen poses with the second-generation Bentley Continental GT.

In the midst of a major new product roll-out, Bentley is about to undergo a major shake-up in its management team, as well.

Long-time CEO Franz-Josef Paefgen will retire, with Wolfgang Durheimer slotted in as his replacement next February.

The executive shift comes as Bentley is in the midst of re-doing its entire line-up.  The British marque’s aging flagship sedan, the Arnage, was recently replaced by an all-new model, the $285,000 Mulsanne.  Next up is an all-new version of the Continental line-up, Bentley’s volume mainstay.  The sporty Continental GT replacement made its debut, last month, at the Paris Motor Show.

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The original Continental was a transformative model for Bentley, which was purchased by Volkswagen AG a little more than a decade ago.  Launched during Paefgen’s 8-year tenure as CEO, it generated sales numbers never before seen in the ultra-premium luxury market.  Immediately prior to the 2008 global economic meltdown, Bentley sales soared to more than 10,000 a year, with the various Continental spin-offs, including the GT coupe, Flying Spur sedan and GTC convertible accounting for 90% of that volume.

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