Ten years in China yet still considered a young brand, Bentley — once known as the Queen’s car — is looking to raise its profile especially among ordinary folks.
Bentley is already gaining momentum and looks to further grow sales of its luxury sedans, which are priced at 4 million yuan ($599,000) to 5 million yuan in China.
Brand building – yes, affordable for most Chinese — no.
Despite its steep price tag, there is demand. In the first nine months of 2011, Bentley sold 1,103 cars in China, up 84 percent from the 815 cars it sold in the same period in 2010. The company entered China in 2002 and sold 41 cars.
Currently, China is Bentley’s second-largest market after the US and is expected to surpass the US as the largest market in two years.
At the end of 2010, Bentley had 13 dealerships in mainland China, four of which were among Bentley’s 10 largest dealerships in the world. Its Beijing dealership has the largest sales globally.
According to Peter Mak, president of Bentley’s China operations, “Bentley is not the most sporty vehicle, nor the most luxurious – but it is the best combination of sportiness, comfort and craftsmanship.”
Last week, the luxury automaker held its first culture exhibit in Shanghai’s landmark Si Nan Mansions to mark its 10th anniversary in China. On display were a replica of the Bentley State Limousine created for Queen Elizabeth II for her Golden Jubilee in 2002, the Bentley EXP-2, its oldest car still in existence, and the “Blower Bentley”, a supercharged 4.5-liter that was driven by renowned British racing car driver Tim Birkin in the 1920s.
According to Mak, Bentley will add dealerships in major Chinese cities as well as in smaller cities in China where the economies are growing the fastest.
photo credit: bentley