In 2009, for the first time China surpassed the United States as the world’s largest automobile market. The change continued in 2010 and looks to remain in place for 2011. The economic crisis in the U.S accelerated the trend but, with 1.3 billion people and an increasingly wealthy populace, the change was inevitable.
The change is showing up in the upper ends of the automotive industry as well. Manufacturers are lavishing attention on China with new luxury sedans, extended wheelbase models and changes in their business plans.
It was recently reported that Maserati is crafting a business plan tailored for future growth in the country. With this as a backdrop, Bentley has just announced its Q1 sales, and China has taken the second position for the first time.
“Our Chinese customers, like the rest of the world, value Bentley’s history and our emphasis on the finest luxury, craftsmanship and automotive excellence. Although China has traditionally been a market for four-door cars such as the Mulsanne and the Continental Flying Spur, there is growing interest in the excitement, adrenalin and sheer fun of driving high performance sports car,” says Alasdair Stewart, Bentley’s board member for sales and marketing.
With the United Kingdom as Bentley’s home market, it has consistently come in as the brand’s second largest. Record breaking sales in China have changed this however. In 2010, Bentley sold nearly 1,000 cars, a figure double 2009’s tally.
For the first quarter of 2011, Chinese sales have checked in at a highly impressive 396 cars, up 66 percent over last year’s record breaking levels. And, with the new Continental GT hitting dealers and a Flying Spur sedan soon to follow, Bentley’s record-breaking pace in China looks set to continue.