No matter what side of the Brexit fence you sit on, the prospect of lorries queuing on their way to Dover is a bad thing. Which is why Bentley, the Volkswagen Group-owned British brand that had seen annual demand grow by five per cent prior to the pandemic, has reserved the use of five cargo jets – including 747s and, potentially, Antonovs – to ensure that the flow of parts from mainland Europe doesn’t stop in a “worst-case scenario”. The firm has built up a stock of parts to cover 14 working days, up from the usual two.
Bentley’s success in 2020 depends on the prevention of any backlog, even more so than the actual outcome of Britain’s negotiations with the Europe Union. That’s according to CEO Adrian Hallmark, who said during the Financial Times Future of the Car summit that 90 per cent of components to make Bentley’s cars are sourced from the continent. About a quarter of its sales are to Europe, too, so any disruption to the back and forth would be a major issue. Hence the booking of cargo planes, which can each carry 112 tonnes – enough to hold about 40 Bentaygas.
Bentley has apparently been planning for the worst case scenario for two years now, with a spokesperson telling PH that the company is “hopeful” that the other “port routings that’ve been designed, and extra warehouse capacity, will provide the flexibility needed to keep parts flowing”. They emphasised that the planes are part of the “final backup plan”, to ensure car parts and even whole sections of bodies can be flown over for production in the UK. That way, the marque should be on course to break even in 2020.
Should the UK government fail to negotiate a trade deal with the European Union before the January deadline, Bentley will have to accept a 10 per cent import tariff for its components. Automotive News Europe reports that the firm would try to cut costs and raise prices to counter this. Either way, the firm expects to be able to sell more than 10,000 cars in 2020. That’s largely thanks to a bounce-back in demand from China, but also due to fast growing demand in Europe and the US. The just-announced completion of deliveries for its 15 Continental GT Pikes Peak editions won’t have hurt, either.
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