The retail price of Bentleys has fallen by as much as $200,000 apiece
Bentleys now cost less with new importer role

VOLKSWAGEN (VW), which bypassed its local distributor last year by importing its own cars, has extended the practice to another brand in its family: Bentley. And well-heeled consumers have quite a few reasons to smile.

As many as 200,000 to be exact.

The retail price of Bentleys has fallen by as much as $200,000 apiece, since Bentley Motors set up its national sales company (NSC) last month. A flagship Arnage limo used to cost $1.2 million, but is now going for $990,000, while the Flying Spur is now $700,000, from its launch price of $750,000 last April.

'The launch of the Bentley NSC is indeed a significant development for Bentley in the Singapore market,' said Bentley Motors regional director Julian Jenkins, adding that the move 'reflects both the commitment to this market and our confidence in the market potential for Bentley'.

He said growing sales as well as the presence of Bentley's regional office here were two reasons for setting up the NSC, which essentially takes over the importer role from Malayan Motors, a member of the listed Wearnes group.

Mr Jenkins also pointed out that 'synergies offered through the integration within the existing Volkswagen Group Singapore organisation' also put Bentley in 'a prime position to take a more active role in the support and ongoing development of this market'.

Malayan Motors remains a Bentley dealer. It sold an average of two Bentleys annually between 1998 and 2003; but sales soared to 26 in 2004 and 21 last year with the launch of the Continental GT coupe. It expects sales to rise further.

Mr Jenkins said the ambition to raise sales and synergies derived from using VW's import channel had 'enabled us to revise the pricing on all Bentley models'.

Since VW took over importership of VW cars from entrepreneur Peter Kwee's Car & Cars last January, VW prices have also fallen, by as much as $40,000. But profits per car for Car & Cars have thinned since then. Ditto Malayan Motors.

Malayan Motors general manager Barry Kan said: 'Hopefully, the higher volume will offset the thinner margins. And with more cars on the road, there is potential for after-sales earnings to rise.

'Overall, it will be good for customers.'

As it is, Mr Kan said the Bentley business on its own 'does not pay for itself', but it 'makes sense' as part of a larger business.

Malayan Motors sells Jaguar cars too, while sister companies in the Wearnes family represent Volvo and Chevrolet.

Singapore is not the only country where Bentley imports its own cars.

Mr Jenkins said: 'The NSC structure is established for Bentley in a number of markets around the world, including Japan and the United States.'

He also pointed out that VW and Audi, another VW-owned marque, have several similar operations around the world.