Bentley forecasts sales of 25,000 units of its planned new SUV during the model's lifecycle, CEO Wolfgang Duerheimer told Automotive News Europe.
Bentley is expected to unveil a concept for the vehicle at the upcoming Geneva auto show. The SUV could be launched within three years if parent Volkswagen Group gives the go-ahead. A decision is expected by the end of the year, Duerheimer said.
The CEO said he "conservatively" expects annual global sales of 3,500 to 5,000 units for the model, which would expand Bentley's product lineup to three vehicles from the flagship Mulsanne and Continental car range.
"If we decide to build this vehicle, we want to give it our first ever plug-in hybrid powertrain," Duerheimer said.
Demand from wealthy buyers in growth markets such as China is prompting luxury brands to consider high-end SUVs.
Lamborghini, which is also owned by VW Group, will unveil an SUV study at the Beijing auto show in April. Maserati showed an SUV concept called the Kubang at the 2011 Frankfurt auto show. The model will start production in 2013.
One of the most expensive SUVs currently on sale is the Porsche Cayenne, which Duerheimer helped to develop while he was r&d boss at the sports car brand. The Bentley SUV would share its underpinnings with the Cayenne and the Audi Q7.