China Outruns US To Become Bentley’s #1 Market

China Sales Increased By 84.9 Percent In Q1 2012 With 578 Cars Delivered

The Bentley Mulsanne has proven immensely popular in the China market

What luxury auto slowdown?

According to statistics released today by the British ultra-luxury automaker Bentley, in the first quarter of 2012 China outpaced the company’s long-time largest market, the United States, to become its new #1. In the first three months of the year, Bentley sales in the China region grew a staggering 84.9 percent year-over-year, with 578 cars delivered to customers. However, as Bentley points out, sales in the US remained impressive, growing 35.6 percent to 468 deliveries, and the upcoming release of the Continental V8 is setting the stage for a serious showdown between the top two markets throughout the remainder of the year.

As Wolfgang Duerheimer, Bentley’s Chief Executive, said this week, “I am delighted that our first quarter performance has consolidated the growth we saw in 2011 and would like to welcome China to its new role as our largest market.”

China wasn’t the only major market in which Bentley recorded huge growth in the first quarter of the year. While Europe grew a surprisingly strong 34.4 percent with 207 deliveries, and the UK remained static with 233 deliveries, the Middle East saw growth of 82.6 percent, rising to 168 deliveries.

So far this year, Bentley has attributed its strong sales in key markets like China and the Middle East to high demand for its new GT and recently launched Continental GTC, which saw 265 and 214 cars delivered in China, respectively, in January and February. However, the company expects an additional sales surge upon the release of the first Continental V8s in the second quarter of the year. Interest in China for the Mulsanne is also expected to add up to a record year for Bentley, and execs remain bullish about the prospects in China for the two-door Continental GT. Despite China’s reputation as a “four-door market” and the land of the extended-cab sedan (and personal driver), Bentley said last month that Chinese buyers are becoming more interested in smaller sports cars.

 

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