Tuesday 23 July 2013

Bentley SUV will be made in Britain

Bentley Motors has confirmed that it will continue with the development of the Bentley SUV, the company’s fourth model line, and build the vehicle in Crewe with anticipated production reaching 4,000 a year. It will go on sale in 2016.

Bentley Motors claims the new programme will create over 1,000 jobs in the UK. Over the next three years Bentley will invest more than £800 million in its headquarters at Crewe and continued development of new models.

The car will be based on the Bentley EXP 9F unveiled at this year’s Geneva Motor Show. Powered by a 6-litre V12 gasoline engine the new sports utility vehicle (SUV) will also offer possibilities for a diesel option in times to come.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who was present together with Dr Martin Winterkorn, chairman of the board of Volkswagen Group for the announcement at Bentley headquarters in Crewe, said: “This £800 million investment and 1,000 new jobs from Bentley is fantastic news for both Crewe and for the UK as a whole. It is another important milestone in strengthening our economy.”

“One sector that we know is sprinting ahead in the global race is our booming automotive industry. One vehicle rolls off a production line somewhere in the UK every 20 seconds and we have just launched the Government’s Automotive Industrial Strategy to help continue this success for years to come.

“I am delighted that Bentley will be building its new vehicle here, not only creating a thousand jobs, but safeguarding many more, as well as increasing training opportunities for highly skilled apprentices.”

The new SUV is central to the company’s plans to double the luxury carmaker’s sales to 15,000 by 2018. Sales last year increased 22 per cent to 8,510. It also means the plate attached to every Bentley – Made in Crewe, England – will continue to have implications worldwide.

Other high calibre Volkswagen brands include Porsche AG, which is building a 500 million euro extension to its Leipzig factory to build the Porsche Macan, and Bugatti.

Dr Winterkorn said: “The Volkswagen Group believes in the UK as a competitive location for industrial production. Bentley fans all around the world are looking forward to the brand’s first SUV. Together we will make this new Bentley another true Bentley – powerful, exclusive and successful.”

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “This is a welcome commitment to the UK from a major international car maker. Our automotive industrial strategy proves this government’s commitment to working with world-class companies like Bentley to create jobs and promote exports.

“Bentley was the first firm I visited as a government minister and serves as an example of high-value manufacturing. Bentley Motors exports more than four out of every five cars they make in the UK to the rest of the world.”

Britain’s car industry represents about three per cent of GDP. Typical annual turnover is estimated at £55 billion from a workforce of 700,000.

Bentley’s chairman and chief executive, Dr Wolfgang Schreiber, added: “This is excellent news for Bentley and for the UK. Bentley is increasingly successful and this new fourth model line will leverage the success of the global SUV market. The support of everyone involved with the company has been fundamental to this decision, which will ensure sustainable growth for the company.” 

The SUV will be a thoroughbred Bentley true to the brand hallmarks of luxury, performance, quality and craftsmanship, according to the company. The styling will set it apart from any other SUV on the road and will be true to the Bentley design DNA. It will be the most luxurious and most powerful SUV in the market. The response from customers to a Bentley SUV has been extremely positive in the last 16 months, the company claimed.

Earlier rumours implied the SUV might be built in Bratislava, Slovakia, where labour rates are lower than in the UK. Had the company opted for this decision, then the SUV would have been the first Bentley car to have been made outside Britain in the company’s near 100-year history.

Bentley Motors’ latest annual operating profit is £86 million on sales of £21.26 billion. The company is expecting double-digit growth in 2013.

Many vendors will be involved in the new programme. Among those which have worked for Bentley Motors in the past include gasoline and diesel engine design specialists Integral Powertrain Ltd of Milton Keynes (see image above).           

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