For Bentley, 2013 Was a Very Good Year

Bentley Mulsanne Photograph by Jason Alden/Bloomberg

Volkswagen is struggling a bit to sell pragmatic Passats, but demand for its blue-blood Bentleys is booming.

The luxury car brand said yesterday that it sold a record 10,120 vehicles worldwide last year, a 19 percent increase over the year prior. That was Bentley’s best performance in its 95-year history and its fourth straight year of double-digit volume gains. Bentley Chief Executive Officer Wolfgang Schreiber said the sales bump establishes his charge “as the most sought-after luxury car brand in the world.” Achtung, Daimler!

Why the heady sales pace? For one, Bentley is getting a nice boost from the economy at large, specifically a bullish stock market. It requires no small amount of consumer confidence to roll away in a Bentley Mulsanne, which has a sticker price just shy of $300,000.

But Bentley really moved the needle by moving down the socioeconomic scale just a touch. Last year it rolled out the Flying Spur, an all-new model that costs about two-thirds as much as the Mulsanne. It’s Bentley’s version of a starter sedan—albeit one with a 12-cylinder engine and interior details in “Dark Fiddleback Eucalyptus.”

Meanwhile, the company plans to push its model expansion. It’s cooking up an SUV in hopes of grabbing market share from Tata Motors’ Land Rover brand.

The end goal? Bentley is hoping to sell 15,000 cars a year by 2018. Assuming an average price around $300,000 and Bentley’s hoped-for 21 percent return, that’s a profit of almost $1 billion for Volkswagen. Luxurious indeed.

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