Bentley First Ultra-Luxury Automaker To Debut In Xi’an

British Automaker Sold Nearly 400 Vehicles In First Quarter Of 2011

The Continental GT Design China edition, developed specifically for the China market last year

The Continental GT Design China edition, developed specifically for the China market last year

Luxury automakers like Mercedes-Benz may be having a harder time in China recently, but 2011 has been a very good year for the British ultra-luxury imprint Bentley, which sold 396 vehicles in the first quarter of 2011 alone — up 66 percent year-over-year. Having surpassed the UK as Bentley’s second-largest single market, as Jing Daily wrote this summer, China now accounts for a quarter of all Bentleys sold in the world today. Owing to a surge in the number of newly wealthy in China, Bentley sales nearly doubled in 2010, and according to a survey of 400 mainland Chinese millionaires conducted by the Hurun Report earlier this year, Bentley’s Continental Flying Spur is the most desirable car among the country’s elite. Looking to differentiate itself from competitors like Rolls-Royce and Maybach, Bentley has even gone so far as to release China-only models like the Continental GT Design Series China and Continental Flying Spur Speed China.

Now, in response to demand from inland China’s newly wealthy, expansion-minded Bentley is in the midst of a second-tier press. Having recently opened its first dealership in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, last week Bentley opened its first dealership in northwest China (and 15th nationwide) in Xi’an, capital of Shaanxi province. While Xi’an has a steadily growing luxury market — led by comparatively young shoppers — the move raised a few eyebrows in the Chinese-language media, to say the least. When asked why the automaker chose Xi’an for its newest dealership, Bentley China chairman Mai Jiongtian told China Auto Trade, “We’ve always had our eye on the northwestern market. We found that Shaanxi province, particularly Xi’an, has developed very quickly in recent years, with GDP growing 14 percent annually.” As Mai added, Bentley wanted to make sure to enter the market first, beating ultra-luxury competitors that he expects will soon flood the market.

Speaking on Bentley’s broader China strategy, Mai added that the British automaker plans to develop additional models specifically for China in the near future. As Bentley Xi’an chairman, Hu Delin noted at the grand opening of the local dealership, in addition to serving the Xi’an and Shaanxi markets, the first northwest Chinese Bentley dealership will provide service for buyers in Gansu, Ningxia, Qinghai and other surrounding provinces.