Bentley Sales in China Beat US

Bentley Sales in China Beat US

In a world where gas prices and fuel consumption are the biggest issues on the average consumer’s mind, British luxury automaker Bentley is insisting on using V8 and V12 engines without a hint of concern.

“We still offer V-12s and are the biggest producer of V-12 engines in the world,” Bentley chief operating officer Christophe Georges said.

That might seem like a foolhardy mentality, but the company’s sales numbers would beg to differ. Already this quarter, U.S. Bentley sales are up 40 percent.  Not only that, but despite being the traditionally largest market for the British luxury cars, American purchases were overtaken — by China.

If that isn’t enough to curl the one percent’s toes, the margin wasn’t a small one. Bentley sold 450 units in the U.S. but Chinese consumers beat that by more than 28 percent purchasing 578 cars.

Retaining large engines like the 6.75-liter, 505-hp V8 found in the new Mulsanne Mulliner will come at an increased cost in the future. Bentley will have to pay gas guzzler taxes as the U.S. government introduces increasingly stringent fuel consumption restrictions, but again that doesn’t seem to be a bother.

Call it arrogance or just good business sense, but 80 percent of Mulsannes sold are bespoke, which takes them far beyond the starting $291,000 price tag. In fact, the majority of customers pay between $320,000 and $340,000. At that price tag, it’s easy to understand why added taxes might seem like frivolous subtext.

The automaker is actually increasing the number of dealerships in the U.S. in anticipation of growing sales. A new store opened in Nashville Ten. earlier this year and other locations are scheduled for Thousand Oaks, Calif. and Charlotte N.C. in the coming months.

“The Chinese and U.S. markets are both strong. I don’t see (China’s lead) as a permanent situation,”  Georges said.  “Our customers have not forgotten about their dreams.”