Bentley was given an ultimatum in January to become profitable -- fast. The message came from Wolfgang Porsche and Hans Michel Piech, two top-ranking members of the Porsche-Piech families who are the leading shareholders in the British luxury brand's parent, Volkswagen Group.
"The important thing is for every [VW Group] brand to generate a reasonable contribution margin," Wolfgang Porsche, head of the families, told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung when asked about Bentley. "That is not currently the case at Bentley, and we are not satisfied."
Eyebrows were raised at the quick turnaround timetable that Bentley was expected to meet. "It can only be one to two years," Piech said.
Last year Bentley suffered what CEO Adrian Hallmark called a "perfect storm," resulting in a 55 million euro loss.
It was Bentley's first year in the red since it posted losses in 2009 and 2010 after the global financial crisis. In the intervening years, however, it only once posted a margin above single figures -- a 10 percent profit in 2013.
This is about to change, Hallmark told Automotive News Europe.
Through nine months Bentley has posted a 65 million euro profit, according to VW Group figures, and it expects a significantly better fourth quarter than in 2018 because the long-delayed Continental GT coupe will finally launch in China this month. Having the key model available in the world's largest market will help the company's revival. "Next year, it would be hard not to have a record year," Hallmark said.