Last January, an ultimatum was issued. Today, the challenge has been overcome.
The order came in last January from the very top. VW Group's main shareholders, the Piech and Porsche families, were unsatisfied with Bentley's financial performance. One could hardly blame them. The previous year, Bentley suffered a financial loss of 55 million euros, a situation described by Bentley CEO Adrian Hallmark as a "perfect storm." This consisted of the slow rollout of three vial new models, the Continental GT coupe and GTC convertible, and Flying Spur sedan. Brexit uncertainty wasn't helping matters either. The direct message from Wolfgang Porsche and Hans Michel Piech was this: Bentley has "one to two years" to turns things around or else. Needless to say, that wasn't much time. Today, Bentley has seemingly accomplished what some deemed impossible.
Automotive News Europe reports that Bentley has not only met expectations but surpassed them.
Through the past nine months, Bentley has posted a 65 million euro profit and is expecting an even better fourth quarter than last year. Looking ahead to 2020, Hallmark believes "it would be hard not to have a record year." How did Bentley save itself? It cut some costs, which included about 10 percent of its workforce, made efficiency improvements on the production line, while sales of its Bentayga SUV continued to be strong.
Porsche Consulting was even brought in to advise on those efficiency improvements. As a result, the time that core models like the Continental GT spent at each production station reduced to a little over 9 minutes from over 12 minutes. Another major setback was the Continental GT.
For starters, development was delayed by 18 months and once everything was done another snag hit: overbooked testing stations to homologate the big coupe under new WLTP emissions regulations.
"We spent the money then couldn't build them. And when we could build them, we couldn't ship them and sell them because the certification wasn't in place," Hallmark said.
Given Bentley's latest financial outlook, VW Group's ultimatum is now a thing of the past. Not only is production up and running and sales are solid, Bentley is looking ahead to future products, specifically an all-electric car by 2025. "We had the perfect storm, now everything is running as it should," Hallmark added. "We have built the cars. They are on quality. They are on quantity. We have turned the corner."