Bentley is enjoying one of the strongest sales in its history in world markets, except for China where the stringent “zero-COVID” policy cost it customers.
Bloomberg reported that Bentley Motors Ltd has seen its orders in China slump this year. It means that the COVID-related lockdowns in the country have affected even the wealthiest consumers of the luxury car brand.
Bentley Chief Executive Officer Adrian Hallmark said on Wednesday, December 7 though Chinese customers are still placing orders, they did not do so when major Chinese cities implemented lockdowns.
Meanwhile, the large cities such as Beijing and Shanghai account for a large portion of Bentley’s orders in China.
Hallmark said that orders from China, the world’s largest auto market, fell from 800 units a month when COVID curbs were first lifted in 2020 to 150-200 units a month now.
He told reporters at Bentley’s headquarters in Crewe, England, “In the last four or five months, the order intake rate is now about the same as it was before COVID.”
He added, “It’s not a disaster, but if I look at the rest of the world — the U.S., the UK, Europe — they’re 20-plus percent up on the previous year.”
Referring to China’s strict lockdown measures, the Bentley executive said that the company’s local employees are unable to get out much, so it’s difficult to get a full picture of the situation.
Hallmark said, “Customers are just not shopping while in lockdown.”
Reuters also cited Hallmark saying Bentley is not in crisis mode, but the carmaker has to remain vigilant.
With weak demand from China, Hallmark said that the British luxury carmaker expects its production will drop slightly next year.
In 2022, Bentley will make around 15,000 cars. The Volkswagen AG-owned manufacturer has turned around its operations in the last four years by cutting costs more than 25% while growing sales 40%.
Bentley plans to introduce its first fully-electric vehicle in 2026 and to launch an electric model every year through 2030. By then, the company will switch its entire lineup to fully battery-powered vehicles.