The British luxury manufacturer Bentley Motors has never made as much money as in 2022. It owes this above all to the pronounced desire of its customers for individual special equipment. The most popular features include hand-sewn seats, optionally embroidered with silk thread, in a contrasting color or with a pattern.
Such an extra adds more than 10,000 euros to the vehicle price. The management of the company, which belongs to the VW Group, had assumed that around a quarter of the drivers would be able to access the seats. In fact, last year 92 percent of all Bentleys were delivered with this particular luxury.
It is no different with a dashboard that can be switched between a classic wooden version and a version with a modern, digital look. This request increases the purchase price by a further 10,000 euros. The exchange board is also entered in 90 percent of the orders.
"Customers are investing more in personalizing and customizing their cars than we've seen in the past," said CEO Adrian Hallmark. Due to inflation, the company has raised prices somewhat. However, the largest part of the sales growth is due to extra equipment.
Last year, the company sold 15,174 vehicles, an increase of four percent. Due to the costly trend described, sales increased much more clearly, by a fifth to the equivalent of 3.38 billion euros. The bottom line was a profit of 708 million euros, after 389 million euros in the previous year.
The best-selling model with 42 percent of the vehicles was the "Bentayga", which is available from a list price of 160,000 pounds or 182,350 euros. The vehicles mainly roll off the assembly line in Crewe, a town between Birmingham and Manchester, and a small number also at the Volkswagen plant in Dresden.
For years, the British car industry has been groaning under declining investments and shrinking production. The country, which has a long tradition in vehicle manufacturing and motorsport, exports a good 80 percent of the cars it produces, primarily to the countries of the European Union.
Recently, however, it has lost competitiveness. Last but not least, Brexit and the associated administrative effort are contributing to this. Industry representatives cite high energy costs and the still sluggish start-up of battery production as further reasons. In addition, the cost of living has increased recently.
However, this development hardly affects the luxury manufacturers in the top price segment, who serve customers all over the world. In the special, luxury and racing segments, manufacturers such as Aston Martin, Lotus, McLaren and Morgan produced 32,575 vehicles last year. Total value: the equivalent of 4.2 billion euros.
Bentley has made an impressive turnaround in recent years under Hallmark's leadership. When he became CEO in 2018, the company made a loss of 288 million euros. As a next step, the carmaker plans to fully electrify its vehicle range.
"Beyond 100" is the name of the three-billion-euro program with which the transition should succeed by 2030. As a first step, Bentley will phase out the 12-cylinder W12 in April 2024. From 2025, the group wants to present an electric model every year. The changeover is expected to be completed five years later.
Hallmark is convinced that even in the luxury segment, more and more buyers are turning to electric drives. “In the last poll we did in 2021, 62 percent said they would choose an electric Bentley in the next five years.” Four years earlier, it was just 14 percent.
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