Bentley’s CEO Adrian Hallmark on the bright future ahead

Bentley’s CEO Adrian Hallmark on the bright future ahead

“We’re also changing the engineering prototype workshop and the launch quality centre, where we trial production before it goes into the factory. By doing that, we will empty the hall on the main site, which is as big as the current assembly hall that built our 14,500 cars last year. We will then completely renovate that hall and put in the new production system, with floor-mounted, autonomous, guided production trolleys and supplier components.

“The bodies will come in, we will paint them and go through the same added-value process that we do today, which is way more than any other UK luxury [car] manufacturer. And because the cost is effective, the quality is unbeatable. And it makes Bentley absolutely authentic.”

You’re very bullish about the future of the super luxury market. Can you tell us more about that?

“The growth potential is so big that you wouldn’t know where to start.

“When the [Continental] GT was launched back in 2003, there were, according to Credit Suisse, six million people on Earth with more than $1 million free-floating in stocks, equities and other non-property investments. Today, that figure is close to 17 million, so it has trebled. In 2003, the market for cars like the GT and Flying Spur was about 3500 worldwide. Last year, it was about 68,000.

“We’re seeing a steady and inexorable rise in that demand, and we expect that to continue. And with zero-tailpipe emissions cars and a totally sustainable supply chain, we think we can give another push and attract to luxury a new generation of buyers who don’t associate themselves with 12-cylinder engines.”

How do you make software and charging luxurious?

“We have a mission on what we call five usage cases, to have not just the best sound experience but the best other experiences in the car – and that’s luxury.

“As autonomous [driving] kicks in and as people can do more in the car, even if they’re being chauffeured by a real chauffeur or a digital one, we want to take the experience in the vehicle to a completely different level. So it’s not about the look, the aesthetics or the way we do the icons on the screen. It’s about the functionality that we can build in. And we’ve got five fields of activity that we want to lead in.