Bentley sees signs of revival in luxury car class

Fri Sep 11, 2009 4:42pm EDT
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By Poornima Gupta

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - British carmaker Bentley, owned by Volkswagen, is seeing some signs of revival in the super luxury vehicle segment and expects sales of premium cars to improve next year, one of its top executives said on Friday.

"We can see some movement. There is some activity going on," said Christophe Georges, chief operating officer of the Americas division. "We expect the last part of this year to be a little better."

He added, "2010 should be the start of a new business cycle."

Georges, who spoke on the sidelines of a media event, was in San Francisco to unveil the iconic British manufacturer's new flagship model Mulsanne. The new sedan will replace the Arnage, which starts at about $225,000.

The Mulsanne, aimed at the super-wealthy, will go on sale in Europe next summer and will make its debut in the U.S. market in third quarter of 2010. It will also be displayed at the Frankfurt Motor Show next week.

Georges declined to reveal the price of the Mulsanne. The least expensive Bentley, the Continental Flying Spur model, starts at $191,500.

Based in Crewe, England, Bentley is also getting ready to launch a sports car. The Continental Supersports can run on ethanol and accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds.

Super-luxury carmakers, typically immune to the boom-and-bust cycles that affect their mass-market counterparts, were hurt in the past year by the fallout from the credit crisis and the economic slowdown.   Continued...