Bentley to start SUV production in 2015, aims for 3,000-unit annual sales

Article by Christian A., on April 26, 2012

Bentley intends to achieve annual sales of 3,000 units of its planned SUV. Its production commences in 2015, CEO Wolfgang Duerheimer revealed during an interview at the Beijing car show. He disclosed that the company is confident of obtaining approval to manufacture the SUV from parent Volkswagen by the end of this year.

The UK-based ultra-luxury brand previewed the vehicle with the EXP 9F Concept revealed at the Geneva motor show in March. The automaker displayed a silver-blue concept model in Beijing. It also provided engine details for the first time. The automaker said that aside from a flagship 6.0-liter W-12 engine, an array of advanced powertrains is being considered for the production vehicle, including a V-6 plug-in hybrid and a 4.0-liter 500-hp V-8 Twin turbo.

With a possible range of 30 km in full electric mode and carbon dioxide emissions of 130 g/km, the V-6 hybrid could accelerate to 100 kph from a standstill in less than 5 seconds, Bentley explained. In 2011, Bentley sold 37% more vehicles as demand for the company's models increased by 100% in China, helping the brand become profitable for the first time since 2008. Duerheimer disclosed that at present, they are working out their internal company business case and that it "looks very optimistic."

Duerheimer expects this SUV to be priced from 160,000 euros or $210,000 to 200,000 euros, or higher compared to the SUVs currently available on the market. 

The automaker, which also manufactures the Continental GT luxury coupe, disclosed that it intends to sell the SUV in "developed SUV markets" like China, the UK and the United States. According to Bentley's interior design chief Robin Page, the preferences of the Chinese customers were a consideration in the styling of the automobile. China surpassed the United States to be the largest sales market for the company during the first quarter with 547 automobiles sold.

The 2012 Geneva Motor Show proved to be one of the most exciting car exhibits for enthusiasts, with iconic brands unveiling their most innovative models yet. From Bentley, the EXP 9 F model was unveiled, featuring a bold, dynamic exterior combined with clean muscular surfaces and signature lines. Though it is a progressive design, it still retains the characteristic luxurious and powerful feel that is a signature of Bentley.

According to Dirk van Braeckel, a renowned Belgian car designer and Director of Design of Bentley, the EXP 9 F was every designers dream project; describing it as having sculptured, flowing surfaces that simultaneously reflect Bentley’s sporting character.

Moreover, van Braeckel stated that the design team had a clear vision for the new Bentley SUV from the get-go. Hallmark Bentley features must be incorporated in the new unit such as the trademark matrix grille, round lamps, and the strong power-line haunch along each flack, emphasizing the robust character of this high-luxurious SUV. Excitingly, ‘visible engineering’ from Blower Bentley was also incorporated, like the day-time running lamp apertures that double as the charge cooler air intake for the twin-turbo W12 engine, each with a dramatic, mesh-covered turbine fan design and 'rifled' inner surface finish.

The turbine theme continues with the stunning 23-inch alloy wheels, the design of which complements the sculptured coachwork. The multiple spokes are reminiscent of the shape of turbine fan blades while the centrally mounted wheel nut is a visual reference to Bentley’s iconic Le Mans circa 1920 with centre-lock spinner and to the single nut found on modern-day Speed 8's high-tech racing alloys. All these contribute to making the Bentley EXP 9 a ‘modern classic’.

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