Report: Bentley planning SUV to boost sales image

Bentley wants to boost its sales by at least a third by launching new products such as high-priced sport utility vehicles, its CEO announced.

The luxury automaker will submit a proposal to Volkswagen AG in the first half of this year to launch an SUV. According to Bentley CEO Wolfgang Dürheimer, the SUV would be the most expensive on the four-by-four market.

“With an SUV we are able to add on at least one third the volume of the company. Our business case will be based on about 2,500 cars a year,” Dürheimer was quoted as saying by the Financial Times at the North American International Auto Show.

Bentley sold 7,003 cars in 2011, its best annual result since the arrival of the recession in 2007. Booming demand for large and expensive cars in China helped Bentley achieve the result. China is Bentley’s second-largest market after the U.S. Bentley currently sells two models, the flagship Mulsanne and several variants of the Continental.

Bentley’s CEO wants to add a third line to build the SUV at its UK plant in Crewe. If VW approves the project, the car would be more expensive than the Cayenne Turbo S (€130,000), Dürheimer said. The SUV would take at least three years to reach the market.