I swear, the stuff that lands on your desk when you’re a professional automotive journalist. Case in point, a news item from Bentley titled “Bentley arrives in Baku, Azerbaijan”. OK, I’ll bite, why would Bentley, or any other car manufacturer want to set up shop in a place like Azerbaijan? And even more intriguing, how many people in Baku want to buy a Bentley?
My first thought was “Is this some sort of joke? Where’s Borat?” Yeah, I know, Borat Sagdiyev was supposedly from Kazakhstan, but that’s right next door, and at first I couldn’t get the image out of my mind of some Sacha Cohen character blundering into the shiny new Bentley office and trying to trade his sister or a couple of sheep for a new Bentley Continental R. Then that cleared. Azerbaijan isn’t THAT crazy, or not nearly as backward as portrayed in various movies. There must be some sort of a market for very highly priced luxo-barges in Baku, right? Sure, why not.
So to get some background, I swing by Wikipedia, and right off the bat, it has this to say:
” The name Baku is widely believed to be derived from the old Persian names of the city Bad-kube, meaning “Wind-pounded city”, in which bad means “wind” and kube is rooted in the verb kubidan, “to pound”, thus referring to a place where wind is strong and pounding.”
After I stop laughing and struggle to not edit that sort of writing, Baku doesn’t sound like that bad of a place. There’s tons of universities there, has a population about the size of metro Cincinnati, is pretty warm and dry … it’s just on the other side of the planet, and doesn’t seem like the sort of place to support a Bentley franchise.
“Bentley Baku will soon become the latest dealership in the company\’s worldwide network, proof of the growing appeal of the powerful, hand-crafted luxury cars made in Crewe, England,” gushed Bentley in their press handout. Yes, yes, we’re sure that more people like your cars today than they did 20 years ago, but Azerbaijan?
They are planning on opening up shop November 2009 on Neftchilar Avenue, Port Baku, and according to Michael Mayer, Regional Director for Europe and UK of Bentley Motors, \”The appeal of the Bentley brand now extends far beyond the company\’s traditional markets. The power, performance and luxury of our models, in particular the Continental family, attract a new breed of entrepreneurs in fast-developing economies such as Azerbaijan.\”
Indeed, and Bentley is working with an outfit called Pasha Holding (creative name, that) whose other businesses are “pharmaceuticals, construction, travel, banking, insurance and restaurants.”
Why do I get the feeling that Pasha Holding is one guy, and this is his way of getting a Bentley?
Here’s Bentley’s presser:
Bentley arrives in Baku, Azerbaijan
Crewe / Baku, 7 April 2009 … By handing over a letter of intent to Emin Asgarov of Azerbaijan\’s Pasha Holding, Michael Mayer, Regional Director for Europe and UK of Bentley Motors, signalled the imminent arrival of a Bentley dealership in Baku, Azerbaijan. Bentley Baku will soon become the latest dealership in the company\’s worldwide network, proof of the growing appeal of the powerful, hand-crafted luxury cars made in Crewe, England.
Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan, is both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a thriving port on the Caspian Sea at the heart of Azerbaijan\’s oil industry. The new Bentley Baku dealership will be operated by Pasha Holding with the official opening in Neftchilar Avenue, Port Baku scheduled for November 2009.
Welcoming Bentley\’s partnership with Pasha Holding, Michael Mayer commented: \”The appeal of the Bentley brand now extends far beyond the company\’s traditional markets. The power, performance and luxury of our models, in particular the Continental family, attract a new breed of entrepreneurs in fast-developing economies such as Azerbaijan. We are fortunate to be working with Pasha Holding, whose broad-based network, financial strength and excellent understanding of the Bentley brand makes them ideal partners.\”
Pasha Holding\’s other business interests encompass pharmaceuticals, construction, travel, banking, insurance and restaurants.
Photo from Flickr user jorbasa