Bentley SUV gets green light for production

Article by Christian Andrei, on July 23, 2012

There’s good news for auto workers in Crewe, England, as Bentley is rumored to soon start production of an SUV at its plant there. This move ensures that there will be jobs at the plant for 14 years. A source told The Sentinel newspaper that Bentley will produce the EXP 9 F SUV concept that was seen at the Geneva auto show last March.

The concept’s appearance was heavily criticized but Bentley managers retorted that the SUV would be a good fit for the luxury marque. In early 2012, Bentley CEO Wolfgang Duerheimer told Automotive News Europe that if this would be approved, the annual sales of this SUV may reach 3,500 to 5,000.

This would be noteworthy for a brand that posted sales of 7,003 units last year. In a release, the Volkswagen Group said that it will extend the period that the Crewe plant will be shut down in the summer from two weeks to three weeks to permit several facility changes to prepare for future productivity increases as well as being a good fit with suppliers' holidays. The Sentinel said that Bentley has informed workers about the extended shutdown of the Continental production line since the company that supplies bodyshells can’t cope with demand.

Bentley said that it had faced difficulties with one of its suppliers, saying that it’s unrelated and has been resolved with the least impact on the business. Bentley’s supplier for its painted bodyshells for its very popular Continental model line is VW’s plant in Zwickau, Germany, plant, that supplies bodyshells for the Phaeton sedan, the flagship of the VW brand. In the first half of 2012, Bentley's sales increased by 32% to 3,929 cars. A spokesperson said that the company is “confident” that there will be “good double-digit growth” in 2012.

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