Bentley, Lamborghini eye U.S. as top market for ultraluxury SUVs
GENEVA -- Bentley and Lamborghini want to create a niche -- the ultraluxury SUV/crossover with a price tag of $200,000 to $250,000 -- and they're aiming for annual combined volume of more than 7,000 vehicles.
The heads of both companies say the models are nearing approval from their parent company, Volkswagen, despite the meltdown of the European auto market. That's because the United States, where crossovers and SUVs sell briskly, will be the biggest market.
In the United States, the two models will be the most expensive SUVs on offer and will compete with the upper end of British and German vehicles, such as the Range Rover Autobiography, priced at $130,99, and the high-performance $135,225 Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG. Prices include shipping.
The Lamborghini and Bentley vehicles would be based on a new VW Group platform that will debut with next year's redesigned Audi Q7 and also will be used by new generations of the VW Touareg and Porsche Cayenne. They likely will use existing engines and put out 500 to 600 hp.
Production of the Bentley, which is based on the EXP 9 F concept unveiled at the Geneva auto show in 2012, would begin in late 2015 or early 2016. Production of the Lamborghini Urus, based on the concept that debuted at the Beijing auto show last April, would begin in 2017.
Bentley CEO Wolfgang Schreiber says many of the brand's owners also have an SUV or crossover, so producing one with a Bentley badge makes sense.
The Bentley SUV likely would use the W-12 and V-8 engines powering the brand's luxury cars and will have advanced communications and entertainment technology, Schreiber said.
Bentley executives previously have forecast sales of 3,500 to 4,000 units a year.
Lamborghini's vehicle would have sportier handling and performance than the Bentley, said CEO Stephan Winkelmann. "It has to be fast and good in acceleration."
Unlike Lamborghini's sports cars, the SUV would be more tame and forgiving on the road because "it has to be used daily," he said. Lamborghini wants the crossover to have 600 hp. It would likely use the V-10 engine that powers the Gallardo.
The U.S. would be the biggest market for the vehicle, followed by the UK, Germany, Russia, the Middle East and China, Winkelmann said. About 3,000 units would be produced annually.
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