REMOVE THE MIDDLEMAN, GROW SALESSat, 09/01/2018 - 12:20
Q: How has Bentley advanced in its establishment as an independent brand in Mexico?
A: Bentley México is now owned by Grupo Surman, after it acquired the rights to become a direct importer for the brand. We still have a relationship with Volkswagen Group in Mexico but they mostly help us with our logistics operations, homologations and other legal issues. Bentley globally is still part of the Volkswagen Group but in Mexico Volkswagen has given up its importer rights and is now just supporting us with certain services.
Grupo Surman is a concessionaire for all of Volkswagen Group’s brands in the country and has participated as concessionaire for Bentley for the 12 years the brand has been in Mexico. Our relationship has now evolved to a closer integration because our concession no longer comes from the Volkswagen Group in Mexico but from Bentley in the UK. Grupo Surman now has the entire responsibility over the Bentley brand in Mexico. The priority at the moment is to strengthen our operations now that we are no longer under the wing of the Volkswagen Group. We already signed an agreement for a new showroom in Monterrey and our plan is to open another one in Guadalajara. Moreover, we have a project of itinerary exhibitions in different cities throughout the country such as Merida and Cancun that will start in 2019.
Q: How did this process impact your results in 2017?
A: This transformation entailed an improvement in our distribution model and in our prices. We started negotiating directly with Bentley in Crewe, England, which led to reductions of 10 to 15 percent in the prices we were offering at the beginning of 2017. We also started managing our aftersales service directly, reducing delivery times for spare parts. Additionally, we renovated our lineup. By the end of 2016, we presented Betayga, Bentley’s SUV with a W12 engine that delivers 600hp, torque of 900Nm and acceleration from 0 to 100km/h in 4.1s. This model complemented our four existing families that included Mulsanne, our top-notch model with a starting price of US$450,000; Continental, priced between US$330,00 and US$350,000 and Flying Spur that has the same price range as Continental. Bentayga now becomes our fourth model and participates in the US$350,000 price range.These, however, were the prices we had under the previous scheme and they are valid until 2018.
Q: How is Bentley innovating in terms of motorization in 181 its vehicles?
A: We will start receiving 2019 models in October 2018 and these vehicles will arrive with the new motorization scheme the brand will implement. Bentayga, for example, will feature a new V8 configuration that, thanks to cost efficiencies and our new price structure, will lead to a starting price of approximately US$250,000. The vehicle will have a more sportive frame with less weight thus maintaining a similar performance of 550hp from the original 600hp. By mid- 2019, Bentley is also planning to introduce a hybrid engine configuration with an electric motor coupled to a V6 engine for Bentayga.
Q: What is the brand’s position regarding electrification?
A: Bentley is following the industry’s trend and will make this a priority for the brand as part of the Volkswagen Group’s commitment to sustainability. Having said that, we will not ditch our signature W12 engines and they will still be available for those clients that prefer an extra edge in their vehicles. This engine configuration is particularly attractive for armored cars, although V8 models will also deliver a powerful performance.
Q: How has the introduction of Bentayga disrupted your sales results?
A: Our all-time best-seller in Mexico has traditionally been the Flying Spur, a four-door model with a W12 engine based on the Continental platform that later evolved to have its own. However, after the introduction of Bentayga, this model rose to 50 percent of our sales in the country. We expect good results for 2018 and we are forecasting sales of 22 to 25 units by the end of the year, which will represent growth of almost 50 percent compared to 2017.