Bentley Headed For A U.S. Downturn?
In the past five years, once-staid Bentley has been the car of choice for those with six figures to spend on transportation. But could the current economic downturn finally be starting to affect the luxury carmaker? The Times reports that Franz-Josef Paefgen, chief executive of Bentley, has said the English brand is noticing less sales in their number one market, the good old U.S.A. Traditionally, cars at the highest end of the market are more immune to the economy than those in the middle-to-upper range. Just a couple of months ago, we heard news that 2007 was the the best year ever for Bentley. The luxury car company sold 10,014 units worldwide, outselling Rolls-Royce, which also broke through the 1,000 mark for the first time last year, by around 10 to one.
But Dr .Paefgen says that Bentley, which is owned by Volkswagen, is now experiencing lower demand in their two top U.S. markets, New York and California. Bentley sells about 45 per cent of their cars in the US. Many of Bentley's deep-pocketed customers are in the financial sector which is an area that has taken deep hits recently.
Bentley's saving grace may come from China and Russia which are both just beginning to to really catch fire. In 2007 in China, sales grew by a blistering 93%, offering the automaker hope for a growing market.