The head of Bentley Motors has explained why the Crewe-based firm had to kill off the Mulsanne.
In mid-January 2020, Bentley confirmed production of the Mulsanne would cease in the second quarter of the year.
Now, speaking to the folks over at Top Gear UK, Adrian Hallmark, who holds the role of Bentley president and CEO, admitted the axing of the Mulsanne was “a big call”, adding “we do it sombrely”.
He explained the large-sedan segment was under sustained pressure as buyers continued to favour SUVs, as evidenced by the popularity of the Bentayga.
“It’s a real symbol of changes in the industry. The big-sedan segment has been the foundation of Bentley for more than 100 years but the volume has regressed – even though we sell more than the [Rolls-Royce] Phantom,” he said.
“In the days of the Arnage, we sold 1 200 a year. Since then the number of high-net-worth individuals in the world has tripled.
“It’s polarised, too. About 90 per cent of the sales are in the US and China. It’s older buyers in the US and Europe versus younger buyers in China. But they would mostly rather have SUVs,” he added.
Hallmark explained it was not viable to replace the Mulsanne, saying the segment was in “critical decline” (although he separately suggested a larger, more luxurious Bentayga was on the cards, which could effectively fill the void).
“If we replace it we still have to think about all the legislation for cyber-security, safety and emissions. It means we just wouldn’t get payback. It’s as brutal as that.”
For now, the range is still available in South Africa, comprising three variants: the Mulsanne (from R6 152 000), the Mulsanne Speed (from R6 739 000) and the Mulsanne extended wheelbase (from R7 384 000).