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In a hostile climate and against fresh competition, Bentley Motors continues to dominate the High Luxury Sector. Indeed, with 1017 sales during the course of the year, Bentley outsold the combined total sales of both the Rolls-Royce and Maybach brands.
Though this represents a drop of 12.1 per cent on Bentley sales in 2002, this should be seen in the context not only of key global economic difficulties – in particular the downturn of the German economy, the SARS outbreak and tax rises in Hong Kong – but also the end of production of the Continental R, T and Azure. These two-door cars accounted for nearly 20 per cent of sales in 2002. By contrast, just 37 of 2003’s sales were accounted for by the new Continental GT, deliveries of which started only at the very end of the year.
Perhaps more indicative of the true picture of the state of the High Luxury Sector (HLS) is the fact that, despite a 43.9 per cent fall in European sales (largely accounted for by adverse economic conditions in Germany), Arnage sales fell just 10.75 per cent over its 2002 performance. This suggests very strongly that despite the considerably wider choice brought by the high profile launches of the Maybach and Rolls-Royce brands in 2003, Bentley remains the luxury car of choice among those happy to spend over £150,000 on a four door car.
“Under the circumstances, this is an exceptionally positive result for us,” commented Bentley’s member of the board for sales and marketing, Adrian Hallmark. “It is fair to say the sector has had a tough year and, at its start, many were predicting that new competition would undermine the appeal of the Arnage. In fact, quite the reverse has happened – the Arnage continues to dominate the sector while our rivals have still to realise their predicted sales figures.”
In 2004, Bentley sales will be dominated by the Continental GT as it comes fully on stream, but a clear indication of Bentley’s commitment to the High Luxury Sector currently dominated by the Arnage is the fact that Bentley’s aim is to maintain its market share at or around 50 per cent (650 – 750 cars per year). Dr Franz-Josef Paefgen, chairman and CEO of Bentley Motors, “As we have said before, this is Bentley’s natural territory and it will not be surrendered. With the comprehensive styling update the Arnage has now received and the massive increase in business currently being enjoyed by our Bentley Mulliner personal commissioning department, we feel we have good reason for facing the future, and our competitors, with great confidence and optimism.”
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