For Bentley, both hard work and luck saved its order books - and its profit margins.
Recently, we attended the launch of the Bentley Bentayga EWB in Vancouver. Aside from enjoying some of the country's natural splendor in a Bentayga, we also spoke with Bentley's engineers and PR folks about various topics.
One of those topics was the ill-fated Felicity Ace. Once it was brought up, Bentley said it had replaced every last one of them, with the last vehicle delivered at the end of September.
Mike Rocco, Bentley's VP of Sales, confirmed as much to Automotive News, saying, "before the boat even went down, we had placed every order back in our system." Bentley was able to take advantage of several factors before and after the Ace slipped beneath the waves.
"Of the 189 cars on board, 151 were [presold or custom-ordered], and we lost three or four customers, tops," Rocco continued. On top of that, the global market was, for once, a boon to an automaker and its customers.
"Based on the demand situation in other parts of the world, we were able to immediately grab production slots. China stepped up and said, 'we're seeing less demand; we can help you with some cars?"
Even the conflict in Ukraine provided some relief for Bentley in a roundabout way. Rocco explains: "Those order slots opened up. So we were able to react and pivot very quickly." Like many others, Bentley pulled out of Russia because of its land grab in Ukraine.
With those customers no longer being served, their cars went to those who lost orders aboard the Ace.
Replacements were handled smoothly by customers as well. The owner of a dealership in Florida says that "it was taken very well by the customers, as much as it can be, anyway. Nobody got mad. I think people have changed their mood a little bit after COVID-19; people became more understanding."
In the end, what enabled Bentley to keep its order books full was a set of circumstances that ordinarily would've been downsides, much like the ship's sinking.