Bentley R.I.P.?

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

Bentley CEO Franz-Josef Paefgen had a little kaffee und kuchen with the Financial Times Deustchland, kicking things off with a representative combination of Germanic bluntness and English understatement. "I loved the car and the company, but if you saw the scale of the challenge and the inexperienced workforce, it was a bit of a challenge." Und now? Bentley's racked-up €107m profit in the first nine months of this year. But Paefgen warns that Bentley's endive days are over. "You should not expect another 15 per cent growth now with all the basic models now in place. The growth will be more moderate and the business more stable – not exploding as it was over the past five years or so." Responding to Bentley's "growing exposure as a fashion brand," Paefgen's glad not all his customers are "football stars and other trendy people," and claims Bentley's protected by its "very strong connection with our traditional brand values." Amongst which fuel economy does not rank, and that's a BIG problem. "'If everyone is going to reduce CO2 emissions by 20 per cent, we have to do at least 20 per cent, or maybe more. This is accepted. There is no problem.' But he admits that if particularly stiff limits on CO2 emissions were imposed 'there will be no Bentley any more.'" Oh dear.

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • Wsn Wsn on Jan 03, 2008

    Not sure about Bentley. But early Rolls Royce cars were famous for the reliable engine (of that day). That's where Lexus is at now. Car making technology is always at the center of a car company. If a company losses its technological edge, it will deteriorate. Then it will only sell its heritage and its so called class. And then it will die. The carcass maybe bought, or maybe not. All of the British brands went that way. Some of the German brands, VW in particular, are on their way.

  • Jthorner Jthorner on Jan 03, 2008

    whatdoiknow1: Yes, I am quite aware of the history of Bentley. VAG actually bought and still uses the historic Rolls-Royce Crewe, England factory to build the Bentley. It is BMW that only got a name (Rolls-Royce) for it's money. In many ways VW has been a better steward of the Bentley brand than Rolls-Royce ever was. Those many decades where a Bentley was simply a discounted Rolls are best forgotten. That said, there is no good reason VW Group couldn't use Bentley to showcase next generation technology. I agree that putting a best in class diesel option on the current model would certainly be a step in the right direction. Even posers want bragging rights about fuel economy. Think of all those Hollywood types who can afford anything and are stuck driving a Prius to demonstrate their great care and concern.

  • Speedlaw Speedlaw on Jan 03, 2008

    In some of the moneyed burbs to the east, west and north of NYC, Bentley exists solely to make the statement " I have too much money to drive a Mercedes or BMW ". You tend to see them in areas where the average car is one year old and the 3 series BMW equals the number of Corollas in other places. A guy up the street has a Phaeton, tho, and was happy to hear it was built on the same assembly line with the Bentley.

  • Stephan Wilkinson Stephan Wilkinson on Jan 03, 2008

    Wow, west and north of NYC... And I thought all we ever got was "West and north of the City, rain will change to a Wintery Mix, flooding, hail and major icing."