Bentley was set for a record sales year in 2020, the British luxury maker predicting that the success of the Bentayga and new Flying Spur would propel it to the highest volumes ever in its 101 year history. But then COVID struck, the company’s Crewe factory was forced to close for several weeks and global demand for some of the world’s most expensive automotive geegaws tanked.
But not for long. When Bentley got back to work – the six-foot width of a Bentayga or Continental helping its workforce to socially distance – the company soon realized demand wasn’t just returning, it was increasing.
“The order intake bounced back right to where it was before – and bear in mind we were set up for a record year,” CEO Adrian Hallmark told Autoweek during a one-on-one interview. “Then in some places it increased – China was double for a while, now it’s about 20 percent above normal. The U.S. had a similar initial effect, now it’s settled about 15 percent above where it was prior to the crash.”
Hallmark reckons two factors are at play. Lockdown gave Bentley’s existing affluent clientele plenty of time to plan upgrades and new purchases – apparently the luxury watch market has also boomed. But the obvious risks of living in a pandemic also made some decide to stretch themselves further. People who were considering a Porsche Cayenne decided to stretch a bit further for a Bentayga. Or a Urus – Lamborghini is apparently experiencing a similar mini-boom.
Bentley prides itself on its closeness to its customers, and Hallmark spent much of the lockdown talking to them, including the select number who had managed to reserve slots for the ultra-limited Bacalar roadster and ‘continuation’ version of the 1930s Bentley Blower. Both have seven-figure pricetags. Hallmark admits he had expected some might want to back out during such a challenging period, but nobody has changed their mind.
“When I asked them if things had changed all of them had the same reaction – to say it was the opposite… this is a time that brings things into sharp focus, to make you look at your priorities. They all still wanted the cars, they just wanted them faster.”
While much of the global auto industry is suffering from the effects of the pandemic, for now at least it’s boom time at the top.
Go to the comments and tell us what you’d buy post COVID
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