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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.
Bentley is aiming high with its proposed goal of doubling annual sales by 2017. The English luxury automaker has a long road ahead, but will be helped by the U.S. resurgence in car sales and especially by the boom in China.
“I am assuming a robust, double-digit growth for 2012. I expect growth of more than 10 percent for Bentley in China and the United States in 2012,” said Bentley CEO Wolfgang Duerheimer. In 2011, Bentley’s American sales grew 32 percent while the companies Chinese sales almost doubled.
Bentley is also hinging on its new SUV to help grow sales into a new untapped market. Trying to stay conservative, the company is predicting annual sales of the new SUV to start at the 3,500 mark.
New markets will be a large factor for Bentley to achieve its goals, with Russia, India, and South America all being discussed as potential growth areas. Mainland Europe will be targeted heavily as last year Bentley sold almost as many cars in the UK alone as it did in all of mainland Europe.
The latest developments in the Chinese market tell us that sales in China are slowing down and the Chinese government is trying to make it harder for foreign automakers to succeed in their country. These anti-foreign cars measures will no doubt have some affect on Bentley, but we can’t tell how much of a problem it will pose.
The battle axes are sharpened and starting to swing in Germany between the three largest luxury car makers, as Audi admits for the first time that they plan to sell their compact Q3 SUV in America.
The Volkswagen-based luxury brand has been hinting and teasing the notion that we might get the Q3 on North American soil, but until now there wasn’t any way to be sure. Now Audi has confirmed it will reveal a Q3 “Vail” Concept at the Detroit Auto Show on Monday, using the vehicle as part of a larger strategy to overtake BMW as the top-selling luxury brand by 2015.
“The next pillar of the market that we have to conquer is the United States,” Audi CEO Rupert Stadler said in London on Thursday. “We see opportunities in the SUV and sedan segments.”
Audi has been growing as a brand outside the U.S. but making a more solid footprint in the American market is essential for them to meet their goal. Here in the States BMW and Mercedes still have a strong grip on luxury sales, but by introducing smaller cars, Audi may be able to change that. Along with the Q3, Audi is expected to deliver several versions of its next generation A3, including a sedan.
Another key point in their strategy will be manufacturing cars domestically rather than shipping and therefore significantly limiting availability to consumers, something BMW and Mercedes have already figured out.
It isn’t as easy as flipping a switch, though, according to Stadler, Audi is finally profitable in America, giving them the confidence to go from wading into full swim.
“In the next decade, we will have to think about the next icon in the Audi brand,” Stadler said. Given the strong trend toward smaller, more economy-minded cars, we’re eager to see what he has up his sleeve.
GALLERY: Audi A3 Concept
[Source: Automotive News]