Bentley Motors is expecting its first-ever sports utility vehicle to help its nearly double its annual sales by the end of the decade to 20,000 units. Bentley chief executive Wolfgang Duerheimer remarked that the SUV will lift the carmaker “into a new dimension," adding the vehicle would be unveiled this year maybe at the Geneva Auto Show in March.
The SUV marks Bentley’s expansion beyond its sedan and coupe models like the Continental GT, the Flying Spur and Mulsanne. The SUV, which will have a starting price of EUR180,000 ($214,000), will be pitted against the likes of the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S, the Mercedes-Benz GL63 AMG and the top-of-the-line Range Rover.
Bentley has disclosed that more than 4,000 potential buyers have already expressed interest in the SUV without even seeing it, prompting sales chief Kevin Rose to quip that a forecast of around 3,000 SUVs in annual sales could be a conservative estimate.
According to Duerheimer, while geopolitical risks have made it seemingly impossible to forecast Bentley's sales this year, the carmaker was preparing for very strong year 2015. Rose remarked that sales in Russia in 2014 were in line with 2013 levels, adding that he expects a similar trend this year 2015.
Russia just accounts for around 2 percent of Bentley's total sales at 230 vehicles. The Americas, meanwhile, accounted to 29 percent of Bentley’s volume in 2014.
The carmaker experienced a 22-percent gain in China last year to 2,160 units. As for the new SUV, Bentley is planning to commence first deliveries in 2016. Duerheimer remarked that the new vehicle will be “the most exclusive, most luxurious and most expensive SUV in the world."