There has been shock and criticisms throughout the car manufacturing industry today as Bentley revealed that they may be producing one of their new models in Bratislava in Slovakia. If the plans go ahead then this will be the first time a mass produced Bentley model has ever been manufactured outside of the UK, meaning that the iconic plate on every model will no longer be allowed to read “Made in Crewe, England.”
The new model is the first sports utility vehicle (SUV) made by Bentley, and the company is hoping that it will fit into the market as a more expensive and prestigious version of their rival Range Rover. At the moment, senior members of staff at Bentley and their parent company the Volkswagen Group have said that they have not yet decided whether to have the vehicle manufactured in Bratislava or Crewe. They went on to claim that they are debating moving production over to Bratislava due to cheaper labour rates and ‘uncertainty’ over whether Britain will remain in the European Union.
On the other hand, the company has said that the Crewe production plant provides a ‘motivated’ British workforce, craftsmanship and will save the company money as they would not have to ship parts over to Eastern Europe. The chairman and chief executive of Bentley, Dr Wolfgang Schreiber said that the key deciding factors will include labour costs, logistical costs, finance and craftsmanship, and is not on capacity as he stated this was ‘not a key issue’. Dr Schreiber went on to say: “There is a chance that the whole car will be built in Bratislava. There is competition between the factories.”
“We want to build sustainable cars that make money. We have components and the craftsmanship skills in Crewe. We are all fighting for the best decision for Bentley. Everyone in Volkswagen knows how motivated and skilled the workers in Crewe are. Their interior craftsmanship is a true asset.” The new vehicles are planned to go on sale from 2015-2016 and cost around £150,000 each, meaning that car insurance quotes for each vehicle will be understandably high! It is expected that most buyers will come from outside the UK however due to the fact that countries such as America and China account for nearly half of all Bentley sales, and on average 87.3 per cent of all Bentley models are exported each year.