SEOUL (Bloomberg) -- Bentley is rolling out new models in South Korea as the ultraluxury brand sees increased competition for cars starting at 200 million won ($193,000) in the Asian market.
The carmaker will start deliveries of the two-seat Continental GT3-R high-performance car and the Mulsanne Speed, the sporty version of its flagship sedan, in the Asian nation by the end of next year, Tim Mackinlay, Bentley's director for Korea and Japan, said in an interview.
The company's dealership in Seoul has seen a 133 percent jump in Korea deliveries this year through August to become the brand's No. 2 retailer in the world, trailing only its outlet in Dubai.
"The success that we've enjoyed is actually being watched closely by competitors, and you'll see greater investment focus on the market because of that," Mackinlay said ahead of an event in Seoul today to mark the start of sales of the V-8 variant of its best-selling Flying Spur sedan, which sells for about $272,000 in the market.
Bentley's entry into the Korean market in 2006 put the Volkswagen Group unit in a position to take advantage of the recent lowering of trade barriers and a strengthening won, both of which have made foreign luxury models easier to buy.
The brand is one of the leaders in the market for autos priced above 200 million won, a segment that has more than doubled in the first eight months and outpaced a 25 percent gain in total imported vehicle sales.
The Flying Spur's initial introduction late last year has helped boost Bentley sales to 196 vehicles through August, already beating last year's record of 170 deliveries, according to the Korea Automobile Importers & Distributors Association.
Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz leads in deliveries among the 40 models costing more than 200 million won, followed by Bentley, according to data from the auto importers' trade body. The association doesn't include sales of Lamborghinis and Ferraris, as the brands don't provide figures.
After the new car models planned for Korea in the next year, Bentley is due to introduce the world's priciest SUV in 2016. The UK marque has won approval from VW to build an SUV that may cost about 180,000 euros ($233,000). Volkswagen is targeting annual global deliveries of 15,000 vehicles for Bentley by 2018, with the brand mimicking a strategy followed by VW's Porsche unit. Porsche, traditionally a sports cars manufacturer, expanded its lineup to include the Cayenne SUV, now the brand's best-selling model, and added the compact Macan SUV earlier this year.