Bentley could assemble new model outside of UK
Quintessentially British brand Bentley may assemble its next model in Bratislava, Slovakia, chief executive Wolfgang Schreiber has revealed.
If the decision is made, it will be the first time a new Bentley model has been manufactured outside its factory in Crewe.
The new model is said to be Bentley's attempt at entering the SUV market, based on the EXP 9 F concept that was shown at the Geneva motor show last year.
The SUV is also part of Bentley's plans to double sales by the year 2018 after profits rose 22% last year.
Mr Schreiber's suggestion that Volkswagen Group's plant in Bratislava might get the new Bentley is based on its proven ability to produce SUV models for other marques within the group, such as the Audi's Q7 and the Volkswagen Touareg.
Such a decision would be based on an extensive cost-benefit analysis that would need to satisfy members of VW Group's board of management.
Speaking to the BBC, Schreiber said: "We will do what is right for the Group, and for Bentley. It's not been finally decided."
Despite the potential cost benefits, board management would prefer to manufacture the upcoming SUV at the plant in Crewe. The 4,000 people who currently build Bentleys are also eager to make sure they get the model, as it could result in further jobs being created.
"We know that our people at Crewe are very motivated to get the model to Crewe, and we as a board support that, not just because they are motivated but also because they are highly skilled," said Mr Schreiber.
"But there is the chance that the whole car will be built in Bratislava, and that we will deliver parts to Bratislava.
"If the components - the leather, the seats, the dashboard - are made in Crewe, then whether or not it is assembled somewhere else, it will still look and feel and smell like a Bentley."