Christophe Georges, CEO of Bentley Motors, the brand's Americas unit, said competition in the segment is seen as a good thing because it gives the market credibility and makes it relevant, which is a draw to some customers of vehicles that start around $180,000 and beyond.
"This new car coming now is quite important after all the other luxury brands have launched, or nearly all have launched, their first SUV," Georges told Automotive News. "It's good to have our second one and keep pace in the market, maintain our leadership and remain the benchmark."
Despite a growing list of competitors, Georges is confident the Bentayga, which has been a driver for Bentley sales in the U.S., can continue to increase deliveries as the brand sees growth in its Americas region. The automaker sold a total of 2,913 vehicles in the region in 2019, up 30 percent from 2018.
"We don't want to lose our share," Georges said. "We created the market, and now we are the first to have a second SUV, or a new one."
One reason for his confidence is simply the timing tied to the U.S. launch in 2016. Not only does Bentley now have a group of existing customers, but for those initial buyers who leased, the freshened model will be waiting for them.
"The traditional lease market is about three years," Georges said. "The lease market represents about 40 percent of the sales. It is coming at the right time for a lot of current owners to replace the current car with a new one. We expect most of our customers to be very loyal and to turn into the next car when it is time to do so."
Georges said the 2021 Bentayga will arrive at U.S. dealerships by the end of this quarter. Bentley is launching the Bentayga with a V-8 engine first, followed by the W-12-powered Speed variant and then a plug-in hybrid model.
The rollout is a shift from when the Bentayga first went on sale in the U.S. Then, it was offered with a W-12 initially, followed by a V-8 in 2018, a Speed performance variant in 2019 and a plug-in hybrid this year.
"We started with V-8 simply because it is consumer preference," said Georges. "Seventy percent of our customers are opting for the V-8."