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Bentley Thinks It Can Sell 3,000 SUVs A Year

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On: Mon, May 7, 2012 at 3:03PM | By: Chris Weiss

Bentley Thinks It Can Sell 3,000 SUVs A Year

After making its European and Asian debuts, things are looking good for the Bentley SUV. Bentley says that it's currently working on a business case for a production version of the EXP-9, and it believes it could sell about 3,000 models a year. It seems confident that official approval from Volkswagen is but a formality.

Last year, Bentley sold roughly 7,000 units from its Mulsanne-Continental line, so an extra 3,000 units from an SUV line wouldn't be anything to snort at. Bentley hasn't publicly okayed the model for production, but it sounds like the business case is making itself.

While Americans might wonder why 3,000 sane people would ever buy a boxy, $200,000 rolling oxymoron, the car wasn't designed for us. Bentley believes that an SUV is essential toward growing its business in places like China and Russia. These places have a growing base of wealthy consumers and a hunger for high-end vehicles like Bentleys, but they also have a lack of the smooth, contiguous highways that traditional models like the Continental GT and Mulsanne demand. A higher, burlier SUV would allow consumers to get their Bentley and drive it on existing road systems without any fear or issues.

China surpassed the United States as Bentley's biggest market in the first quarter of this year, and Bentley designed the EXP-9 with its eye squarely on China. In fact, Auto News Europe reports that the model was designed as to pair 'Shanghai limousine luxury' with British utility (think Range Rover). So it needs to make the most sense in China, where it seems Bentley believes sales will be strongest.

"At present, we are working out our internal Bentley business case and it looks very optimistic," Wolfgang Duerheimer told Auto News.

Durheimer believes that parent company Volkswagen will approve a Bentley SUV by the end of the year. Production could begin in 2015.

In Beijing, Bentley detailed several powertrain options it envisions powering its largest vehicle. All options are currently on the table, including the Continental GT's traditional 6.0-liter W-12, the recently released 4.0-liter V-8 and a V-6-based plug-in hybrid powertrain, maybe all three.


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