Bentley expecting China to become its largest market this year image

Bentley’s CEO Wolfgang Duerheimer said he expects China to become its No. 1 market in 2012.

“In China, we were the first time ever in a situation that we could sell more than a thousand cars. We ended it up last year at 1,839 vehicles in China. It is a growth of 95 percent in comparison with last year,” Durheimer told Xinhua news agency in an interview, at the North American International Auto Show. He added that China could overtake the United States to become its largest market in 2012.

Bentley’s global sales in 2011 rose 37 percent to 7,003, with the VW-owned carmaker recording strong growth in all major markets. The U.S. remained its biggest market, with sales reaching 2,021 vehicles, an increase of 30 percent. For the first time, the second-biggest market was China, where Bentley sold 1,839 cars, almost double than in 2010. Sales in Europe excluding the UK increased 53 percent.

Durheimer announced it plans to introduce an SUV in the next three years, but has no immediate plans of developing pure electric cars. However, Bentley might launch a plug-in hybrid car around 2015.