Bentley Logo Bentley Motors Limited is a British manufacturer and marketer of luxury cars and SUVs—and a subsidiary of Volkswagen AG since 1998.
Headquartered in Crewe, England, the company was founded as Bentley Motors Limited by W. O. Bentley in 1919 in Cricklewood, North London—and became widely known for winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1924, 1927, 1928, 1929, 1930, and 2003.
Prominent models extend from the historic sports-racing Bentley 4½ Litre and Bentley Speed Six; the more recent Bentley R Type Continental, Bentley Turbo R, and Bentley Arnage; to its current model line—including the Continental Flying Spur, Continental GT, Bentley Bentayga and the Mulsanne—which are marketed worldwide, with China its largest market as of November 2012.
Today most Bentleys are assembled at the company's Crewe factory, with a small number assembled at Volkswagen's Dresden factory Germany,and with bodies for the Continental manufactured in Zwickau and the Bentayga manufactured at the Volkswagen Bratislava Plant.
The joining and eventual separation of Bentley and Rolls-Royce follows a series of mergers and acquisitions, beginning with the 1931 purchase by Rolls-Royce of Bentley, then in receivership. In 1971, Rolls-Royce itself was forced into receivership and the UK government nationalised the company—splitting into two companies the aerospace division (Rolls-Royce Plc) and automotive (Rolls-Royce Motors Limited) divisions—the latter retaining the Bentley subdivision. Rolls-Royce Motors was subsequently sold to engineering conglomerate, Vickers and in 1998, Vickers sold Rolls-Royce to Volkswagen AG.
Intellectual property rights to both the name Rolls-Royce as well as the company's logo had been retained not by Rolls-Royce Motors, but by aerospace company, Rolls-Royce Plc, which had continued to license both to the automotive division. Thus the sale of "Rolls-Royce" to VW included the Bentley name and logos, vehicle designs, model nameplates, production and administrative facilities, the Spirit of Ecstasy and Rolls-Royce grille shape trademarks (subsequently sold to BMW by VW)—but not the rights to the Rolls-Royce name or logo. The aerospace company, Rolls-Royce Plc, ultimately sold both to BMW AG.
After acquiring the business, Volkswagen spent GBP500 million (about US$845 million) to modernise the Crewe factory and increase production capacity. As of early 2010, there are about 3,500 working at Crewe, compared with about 1,500 in 1998 before being taken over by Volkswagen.It was reported that Volkswagen invested a total of nearly US$2 billion in Bentley and its revival. As a result of upgrading facilities at Crewe the bodywork now arrives fully painted at the Crewe facility for final assembly, with the parts coming from Germany—similarly Rolls-Royce body shells are painted and shipped to the UK for assembly only.
In 2002, Bentley presented Queen Elizabeth II with an official State Limousine to celebrate her Golden Jubilee. In 2003, Bentley's two-door convertible, the Bentley Azure, ceased production, and Bentley introduced a second line, Bentley Continental GT, a large luxury coupé powered by a W12 engine built in Crewe.
Demand had been so great that the factory at Crewe was unable to meet orders despite an installed capacity of approximately 9,500 vehicles per year; there was a waiting list of over a year for new cars to be delivered. Consequently, part of the production of the new Flying Spur, a four-door version of the Continental GT, was assigned to the Transparent Factory (Germany), where the Volkswagen Phaeton luxury car is also assembled. This arrangement ceased at the end of 2006 after around 1,000 cars, with all car production reverting to the Crewe plant.
In April 2005, Bentley confirmed plans to produce a four-seat convertible model—the Azure, derived from the Arnage Drophead Coupé prototype—at Crewe beginning in 2006. By the autumn of 2005, the convertible version of the successful Continental GT, the Continental GTC, was also presented. These two models were successfully launched in late 2006.
A limited run of a Zagato modified GT was also announced in March 2008, dubbed "GTZ".
A new version of the Bentley Continental was introduced at the 2009 Geneva Auto Show: The Continental Supersports. This new Bentley is a supercar combining extreme power with environmentally friendly FlexFuel technology, capable of using petrol (gasoline) and biofuel (E85 ethanol).
Bentley sales continued to increase, and in 2005 8,627 were sold worldwide, 3,654 in the United States. In 2007, the 10,000 cars-per-year threshold was broken for the first time with sales of 10,014. For 2007, a record profit of €155 million was also announced.Bentley reported a sale of about 7,600 units in 2008. However, its global sales plunged 50 percent to 4,616 vehicles in 2009 (with the U.S. deliveries dropped 49% to 1,433 vehicles) and it suffered an operating loss of €194 million, compared with an operating profit of €10 million in 2008. As a result of the slump in sales, production at Crewe was shut down during March and April 2009.Though vehicle sales increased by 11% to 5,117 in 2010, operating loss grew by 26% to €245 million. In Autumn 2010, workers at Crewe staged a series of protests over proposal of compulsory work on Fridays and mandatory overtime during the week.
Vehicle sales in 2011 rose 37% to 7,003 vehicles, with the new Continental GT accounting for over one-third of total sales. The current workforce is about 4,000 people.
Source : wikipedia