Bentley Unit Told to Become Profitable Within 2 Years

January 09, 2019 at 11:14 AM

Volkswagen AG’s major shareholder families have given the company’s Bentley super-luxury brand no more than two years to achieve a sustainable profit, Automotive News Europe reports.

Wolfgang Porsche, who heads the Piech and Porsche families, described the ultimatum to Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper. He says the families expect all VW Group brands to contribute a “reasonable” margin. But that isn’t the case for Bentley, he notes, adding that “we are not satisfied.”

It isn’t clear what the families would do if Bentley, a relatively minor contributor to VW Group results, fails to reach profitability. The brand reported a small profit in 2017. But it lost €137 million ($158 million) through the first three quarters of 2018, as sales fell 11% to 6,600 cars.

The unit stumbled last year in its launch of the next-generation Continental GT sport coupe (pictured). It also faced “close to catastrophic” problems last autumn in certifying its models under Europe’s new WLTP emissions testing protocol.

Bentley, which builds its cars in England, blames much of its woes on the U.K.’s decision to leave the European Union next spring. Brexit has hurt the value of the British pound, thereby raising the cost of components Bentley buys from suppliers in Europe.