It's actually quite sad.
The retirement of the Bentley Mulsanne is a sad end for a long-time Bentley tradition. Big sedans were, according to Bentley CEO Adrian Hallmark, the carmaker's "foundation… for more than 100 years." What's happened? The arrival and continuing high demand for SUVs like the Bentley Bentayga. It's been nearly five years since the Bentayga arrived and Bentley has since been able to study its effect on the rest of its lineup. The sales numbers have spoken.
Speaking to Top Gear, Hallmark said "the loss of the Mulsanne was a big call. We do it somberly." The 30-unit 6.75 Edition is meant to give the Mulsanne a graceful passing. It also represents the end of another era: the pushrod V8, an engine that's been continually developed for the past six decades.
"It's a real symbol of change in the industry," Hallmark explained. "In the days of the Arnage, we sold 1,200 a year. Since then the number of high-net-worth individuals in the world has tripled." That still wasn't good enough to justify keeping the Mulsanne. Only around 500 or so units a year have been sold. Although most Mulsanne customers are in the US and China, it still boils down to younger versus older buyers. The younger crowd wants SUVs, plain and simple. Nor would it have been possible to simply replace the Mulsanne. "The segment is in critical decline," Hallmark added. "If we replace it we will have to think about all the legislation for cyber-security, safety, and emissions. It means we just wouldn't get payback. It's as brutal as that."
For the record, Hallmark does not view the Bentley Flying Spur as a proper Mulsanne successor, although "it outsells the Mulsanne six to one."
Another factor leading to the Mulsanne's death is that each one required at least 400 hours to build. There was that much hand-crafted labor involved as each car was built to order. The vast amount of time spent wasn't cost-efficient. Fortunately, the recently expanded Mulliner coachbuild division will take over the space in the Bentley factor where Mulsannes were built. The Bentley Mulliner Bacalar is its most recent offering.
And that's that. The Bentley Mulsanne is being permanently retired because not enough people want one.