The Russian market is a relatively small one for Bentley alongside America, China and the UK. But it could soon become the largest in Europe for luxury cars, and gives Bentley huge potential, says Kevin Rose, the board member for sales, marketing and aftersales.
The Crewe company expects to claim 25 per cent of Russian luxury car sales expected to total 1,000 sales this year, but is already looking further ahead.
“We are 43 per cent up in Russia this year and 28 per cent up overall,” says Rose. “Our strategy is to get in early and develop the network, organisation and customer base.”
Globally, the luxury car market – Rose includes Rolls-Royce, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati as well as top-end Mercedes and Porsches – is only 45,000 cars a year. “Generally, the luxury car market is static or falling everywhere,” says Rose. “Russia is one of the few places where it is up.”
America remains the company’s major market with 2,600 sales a year, but is coming under pressure from China (2,000), with the UK third on around 1,500. Bentley hopes to sell slightly more than 8,000 cars this year compared with 7,000 in 2011 as it starts to edge back towards its best-ever, pre-banking collapse total of 10,000.
It might seem a surprise, therefore, that the company chose the Moscow show rather than Paris next month or Los Angeles in November to unveil the fastest-ever road-going Bentley, the 205mph Continental GT Speed.
But Rose says the Speed is “a good car for Moscow”, and says Bentley has other irons in the fire for Paris and LA. “We have plenty of product news to come,” he added.
The Speed is by powered by a 616bhp 6.0-litre W12 engine driving through the eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox that is now standard across the Bentley range. The new gearbox makes a significant contribution to a 12 per cent reduction in fuel consumption compared with the previous Speed.