Bentley’s CEO says the implementation of the new Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP) in Europe caused "close to catastrophic" delays for the British firm.

Speaking to Automotive News Europe, Bentley CEO Adrian Hallmark admitted the brand – which is part of the Volkswagen Group – took too long to ready its vehicles for the new testing procedure, which was introduced in Europe at the start of September.

"We were not quick enough unfortunately to book capacity or prioritise our derivatives within some of the group processes to get them certified on time,” Hallmark said, explaining that Bentley’s vehicles became "stuck in the queue".

This, he added, forced Bentley to delay the planned launch of a plug-in hybrid version of the Bentayga until the first quarter of 2019. Hallmark suggested the testing delays likely cost the brand up to 400 Bentayga sales.

"There has not been capacity around Europe to test all the derivatives so we have had to be ruthless in that prioritisation,” Hallmark said.

The report said the Crewe-based automaker had lost some €137-million in the first nine months of 2018, although Hallmark was confident the firm would return a profit in 2019.

"This year is a conversion year to a better business model and next year you will start to see significant growth and a return to normality in terms of profit,” he predicted.