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VW's Bentley sees new SUV spurring sales surge to 2020


LONDON/BERLIN, (Reuters) - Bentley Motors expects its first sport-utility vehicle (SUV) to help almost double sales by 2020, the British luxury carmaker said on Wednesday, after reporting record deliveries last year.


Volkswagen-owned Bentley expects to increase sales to 20,000 a year by the end of the decade, a spokesman said, after previously targeting 15,000 deliveries by 2018.


"We think the success of the SUV will lift us into a new dimension," Chief Executive Wolfgang Duerheimer said at a press conference in London, adding the vehicle would be unveiled this year, potentially at the Geneva auto show in March.


Over 4,000 potential customers have already expressed an interest in the SUV without having seen it, Bentley has said, leading sales chief Kevin Rose to say a forecast of selling 3,000 SUVs a year could be conservative.


First deliveries of the new car will be made next year.


The 96 year-old brand, whose customers include Queen Elizabeth II and the Sultan of Brunei, delivered a record 11,020 saloons, coupes and convertibles in 2014, 9 percent more than in 2013, with growth powered by demand from China.


Geopolitical risks made it impossible to project Bentley's sales performance in 2015 but it was preparing for "a very strong year again," CEO Duerheimer said.


Last year's sales in Russia, where the rouble has been hammered by slumping oil prices and Western sanctions related to the crisis in Ukraine, were in line with 2013 levels, Rose said, predicting a similar outcome for 2015.


Russian sales account for about 2 percent of Bentley's global volume and totalled about 230 vehicles, a spokesman said.


The Americas remained Bentley's biggest market in 2014, with China coming a close second, after sales there jumped 22 percent from the previous year.


Bentley's strong growth in China came despite analysts warning of an end to the country's 10-year luxury car sales boom, which has been hit by President Xi Jinping's crackdown on extravagance by government officials.


"In terms of growth, China is still the most important and most interesting region," Duerheimer said.


Rose said Bentley had around a 35 percent share of China's ultra-luxury car market and that its customers there tended to be entrepreneurs not affected by the crackdown as much as government employees. 



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