The Continental GT Design Series
It looks like Bentley's tailor-made efforts to appeal to Chinese car buyers, such as the British carmaker's localized Continental Flying Spur, and significant expansion strategy are starting to pay off. In the first four months of this year, Bentley sold a record 396 automobiles in China, a rise of 66 percent over the same period last year. This comes after Bentley nearly doubled its China sales in 2010, selling almost 1,000 automobiles. The 2011 milestone marks the first time ever that Bentley has sold more vehicles in China than in its home market of the United Kingdom, and officially makes China the company's second-largest single market after the United States. As Bentley noted in an official release today, around one in four Bentleys sold globally, is now sold in China.
What is perhaps most interesting about these sales figures is that they were mostly achieved even before the new Continental GT -- which debuted at the recent Shanghai Auto Show -- and new Mulsanne arrived at dealerships in China. Bentley now expects its full-year sales to accelerate even more as these models become more widely available to Chinese buyers over the course of the next several months.
Acknowledging the importance of the China market, this week Bentley will, for the first time, host its Worldwide Dealer Conference in Beijing. This also marks the first time Bentley has held this event in Asia, which goes to show how quickly China has catapulted to the forefront of Bentley's global priority list. The conference will take place at several locations throughout the Chinese capital, from the Bird's Nest to the Forbidden City's Tai Miao. As Bentley’s Member of the Board for Sales and Marketing, Alasdair Stewart said, “China is the perfect venue for Bentley’s Dealer Conference: it contains such a vibrant mix of the traditional and the modern and it is now one of our most significant markets."
Bentley this week added that it plans to expand its Chinese dealer network by one-third this year alone, and plans to beef up its service standards via its new China Training Academy. Always a good idea, if you want to make sure your cars don't end up on the receiving end of a sledgehammer, as Lamborghini found out earlier this year.