As the Bentley SUV continues its inevitable march towards production, the latest news from Bentley itself is that the SUV won’t be built in its famed Crewe, England factory, but in Bratislava, Slovakia.
Apparently, VW’s board may demand that production take place in Bratsilava, where vehicles like the Volkswagen Touraeg are built. While Eastern European factories have long proven their ability to produce reliable, high-quality vehicles, it would be a huge departure for Bentley. And of course, it all comes down to money.
In a stunning expropriation of today’s environmentally friendly vernacular, Bentley chief Wolfgang Schreiber told Autocar
“We want to build sustainable cars that make money, but we have the components and the craftsmanship skills in Crewe.”
In this case, “sustainable” has nothing to do with polar bears or rainforests, but simply “making a lot of profit off of a Touraeg” by building it in a low-cost country. So how would VW get around this?
If the model were to be built in Bratislava, it would be the first Bentley sold without the famed ‘Made in Crewe, England’ plaque since some examples of the Flying Spur were built in Dresden in 2005/06. Instead, a ‘Designed in Crewe, England’ plaque would likely feature.
Rather than trot out the usual backward-looking tropes about “heritage” and “brand values”, let’s recognize that we’re in a different era, and any honor associated with the Bentley brand went out the window when they produced those ghastly Breitling Bentley watches. Instead, let’s applaud Bentley and the VW Group for the absolutely predatory cynicism involved here. They know they can make a very profitable vehicle (a high margin ultra-luxury SUV) even more profitable by building it in Slovakia, because the nouveau riche of the BRIC Countries – and America, for that matter, will not give a lick as to its country of origin. Bravo!