Bentley announced yesterday that their new SUV, which is likely to resemble the EXP 9 F concept vehicle, will be built in the UK. This is of course great news for the British economy and long suffering job situation. The new SUV will go on sale in 2016 and will be built at the Bentley factory in Crewe.
Bentley say that they expect that making the decision to build the car in its rightful home of Crewe will generate around 1,000 new jobs – as well as also resulting in around £800 million being invested into the UK.
Pricing though, might be considered the downside with an expected, rather hefty price tag of £150,000. But where there’s a Bentley badge (or a Rolls Royce badge for that matter), there is always a buyer, and not necessarily in the UK these days either.
Of the 1,000 new jobs almost half of them (400) are expected to be employed directly by Bentley in Crewe. The rest of this amount is made up of the various new jobs that will be generated by the chain of suppliers that will be required.
In 2012, to reiterate the point that while a price tag of £150,000 might be considered too high in the UK it certainly isn’t for others, Bentley’s export figure totalled £1 billion. In fact, Bentley tells us that these days 4 out of every 5 cars it builds will be exported abroad. In fact, the biggest market for Bentley remains the USA, a country fully at ease with the bigger and better concept, where the large platform SUV is very much at home.
The idea of the Sports Utility Vehicle is a fairly new concept, but the market for such vehicles has grown steadily over the past 5 years or so to become a viable proposition for Bentley to explore.
In typical Bentley fashion, the manufacturer claim that their SUV will be more powerful and more luxurious than anything currently on the market. Bold claims indeed, but ones I am sure that Bentley is very likely to fulfil.
Bentley showcased their SUV concept, the EXP 9 F, at the Geneva Motor Show in 2012. The concept was designed by Dirk van Braeckel and developed in good old Crewe. The EXP 9 F sits on a VW Group PL71 platform, which is the same platform that the Audi Q7, Volkswagen Touareg and Porsche Cayenne are built on.
What makes this announcement a bit of a coup for Crewe and the UK is the fact that all other vehicles that are built on the PL71 platform are built in Slovakia at the Volkswagen Bratislava Plant. It would have been no surprise for this new SUV to be built there in all honesty, but it seems that the heritage and history that Crewe and Bentley share won out at the end of the day.
Early days of course, by the EXP 9 F concept is a 6-seater with a V6 engine with suggestions that the model to be built for the mass market could have some sort of VW hybrid engine or even a V8 squeezed under the bonnet.
Personally, I’m not sure how the tag of ‘most luxurious’ sits within the idea of a Sports Utility Vehicle. I would expect to see lots of waterproofing, neoprene and wipe down rear cargo areas in such a vehicle, but maybe I’m simply missing the fashion point of this project.
All said and done though, it’s undoubtedly a tremendous lift for the UK economy and that can only be good.