No, the maker isn’t launching a brand-new model line. Rather, this is the opportunity available to dealers right now – if they exploit their used stock.
Continental GTs are now five years old, and dealer-approved retail prices are down below the £50k level. Regional director Richard Gordon says this presents a real opportunity: ‘An entry-level Bentley is an aspiration.’
‘This is for loyalty and conquest,’ explains Gordon. ‘Even when part-exchanged, this is still a high-value item. We’re not quite at a 1:1 new and used split, but we’re heading there, and it’s something I want to see.’
The thinking is that by lowering the bar to Bentley ownership, customers can ‘get onto the ladder’ sooner in their career. Remember, these guys will probably be future high-earners.
Make them Bentley drivers early enough, and they may well stay for life, driving new car sales, too. ‘It gives dealers the chance to bring in customers for a long time, if they look after them well.’
That’s why Gordon prefers, but doesn’t stipulate, that dealers show their pre-owned models undercover. ‘It’s not a requirement, but it’s very important to the business model.’
Of course, it’s also seen as Bentley dealers’ way of surviving the credit crunch. The brand has been hit hard. New Bentley registrations are down 14 per cent.
However, Gordon says, the high end luxury sector as a whole is down 20 per cent. ‘We’ve grown our share of it to around 20 per cent’ – a level he aims, even in challenging conditions, to maintain.
With, it seems, profits from an increasing slice of used car revenue to back it all up.
By RICHARD AUCOCK