WLTP Switch “Close To Catastrophic” For Bentley As It Lost 300-400 Bentayga Sales

The switch to the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) testing procedure has caused some problems for most automakers who sell cars in Europe.

However, some had it worse than others. For Bentley, the problems were “close to catastrophic” in the words of Bentley Motors CEO Adrian Hallmark. The executive estimates the WLTP testing delays cost the company between 300 and 400 Bentayga sales.

Bentley was too slow to prepare its cars for Europe’s new WLTP standard and its cars got stuck in the queue for testing as a result. “We were not quick enough unfortunately to book capacity or prioritize our derivatives within some of the group processes to get them certified on time,” Hallmark told Automotive News Europe.

Consequently, Bentley was forced to push back the introduction of the Bentayga plug-in hybrid (pictured) to March 2019 so it could test more of its volume models. WLTP also caused the brand to delay the launch of the new Continental GT. That was a pretty big deal, too, as the coupe is the brand’s second best-selling car after the Bentayga.

According to Hallmark, they had to be “ruthless” in the prioritization of which models would get WLTP tested first.

Bentley’s global sales fell 11 percent to 6,643 vehicles in the first nine months of this year compared to the same period in 2017 and the carmaker posted losses of €137 million ($156 million) in the first three quarters of 2018. VW Group’s financial report blamed the slow Continental GT launch and exchange rate problems for the British automaker’s loss.

Many of the parts Bentley uses in its cars are imported from continental Europe, making them more expensive when the pound is weak – like it has been during the latest Brexit negotiations. Hallmark estimates the brand will post a profit in the fourth quarter, but that won’t be enough to offset the losses posted so far.

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  • pcurve

    doesn’t look like 200k car inside and out… that might be the bigger issue.

    • D4VE THEFIRST

      No? Did you ever sit or drove this car? No?

      • pcurve

        Nope, Nope, and Nope? I think the new BMW x7 with blue dash+quilted leather looks much more deluxe… imho.

        • Bash

          I agree. and looks more proportional on the outside.

    • Matt

      People literally couldn’t buy the Bentayga, that’s why sales were down.

      The interior is probably the most impressive part of the car. Very high quality.

  • Craig

    Lincoln had a colour VERY similar to that in the late 1970’s called ‘Dove Gray’. It’s quite nice.

  • rockyroad

    leather matching piano veneer is a nice touch

  • DR.FUNK

    They needed to delay that puppy…until such time as they found a more attractive vehicle to market.
    Not this dog.

  • MarketAndChurch

    Either there is something really dumb about the way this standard was implemented, or car makers were careless.

    • The issue was that WLTP was originally planned and proposed back in 2015. Unless you were VWG who had to tackle Diesel Gate, it provided time for manufacturers to plan. However, there is only one testing facility that all manufacturers who sell cars in the EU have to go through first, including vans and bikes, despite later implementations of stricter emission regulations. When you then consider the sheer quantity of vehicles that have to be tested, in different guises, trims, engines (including *ALL* accountable options and accessories (they of course can affect the CO2 independently. For example, if you specified panoramic sunroof (lots of weight) and, say, mud-flaps (less aerodynamic because of more drag) those will change to the CO2 rating, even if slightly, from the base spec so therefore *HAVE* to be tested. Even if only one customer ever were to only ever configure those specific individual options together, the brand has to account for that so it can legally provide the correct information and thus correct tax code too).

      SOLD OR NOT, YOU CANNOT LEGALLY SELL A NEW VEHICLE IN THE EU WITH WLTP IMPLICATED ACCERORIES AND OPTIONS THAT HAVE BEEN FITTED AT THE DEALERSHIP BEFORE THE CUSTOMER’S HANDOVER. THE VEHICLE MUST RETURN AFTER HANDOVER FIRST AT A LATER DATE FOR THEM TO BE FITTED. Can’t emphasise how complicated the procedure is for options and accessories and why it’s such a critical component as to why WLTP has taken so long for all brands to gain approval ratings for all their models. If you fail, you are referred back to the end of the queue where you’ll have to wait (months) before you can have them tested again, assuming you have the correction already figure out and in place, of course.

      As a result of this, German manufacturers have so far had the worst time because of their model line-ups. BMW has what, 40 different models lines that have to be all tested individually, again, options and accessories included. Not only this, as is the rule of thumb with German brands, everything is an option. Add this onto the already time consuming process of testing every model, the queue builds up insanely rapidly as, again, there is only one testing facility all brands have to go through. Can’t stress that point enough. As a result, it’s ‘first come, first serve’. If you happen to be waiting behind Mercedes testing the C-Class, other brands will have to wait until that testing is done before theirs are even looked at. Take into consideration the new testing procedure where it actually occurs outside of a laboratory, I believe the process is 3x as long to conduct.

      Considering these points, brands such as SEAT have now reacted to this by conglomerating their options and trims together to virtually wipe-out the options list so they can pass the tests quicker. This follows more on suit from brands such as Mazda where there is a very limited options list – it’s basically paint, leather (spec-dependent), Safety Pack (spec-dependent) and the engine. You can see how that drastically reduces the time to gain WLTP Euro6 Temp-D approval. As a result, they were one of the few brands that didn’t have an issue with WLTP testing and actually increased sales (and market share) throughout September by essentially being able to sell ‘immediate delivery’ vehicles to customers there and then that other brands couldn’t provide.

      Summarising these points whilst bringing it back to Bentley, VWG Diesel Gate scandal pushed back development for WLTP because all attention had to be directed on saving itself during this crisis (refer to massively reduced R&D funds year-on-year). Due to only being one testing facility, if you didn’t pass you had to go to the end of the queue, and with that queue being quite large as it was as well as VWG being quite late to the party, a lot of development was rushed which as a result pushed back a lot of models from ALL subsidiaries in VWG (Audi is fascinating to watch at the moment because it has problems pretty much everywhere, from engines, trim and options – you may have also seen ‘stand-in trims’ whilst this is being resolved so they can sell cars to a set trim with approved engines so they can actually sell cars to customers). If you were VWG, what would you want to push through to get approved first, getting the Golf (Europe’s and VWG’s best selling car) or a Bentayga? It’s one of those ‘the best from the worst’ situations.

      TL;DR: It’s a mixture of EU governing that’s caused the car crash, but it’s the brands unassuming lack of awareness which has caused the pile-up. VWG caused their own, and that fire is still burning…quite strongly. Oh, and if you do want to factory order a Golf, you’ll be looking at about March next year for delivery still.

      • MarketAndChurch

        This is the best explanation I’ve seen so far. Thank you, and I now no longer have as much sympathies for VAG. It was planned and proposed in 2015, but when did testing become available? I just wish there was a better system, or reasonable extensions given for those whose cars are in que to be tested.

        • Thank you! I don’t know when the testing phase was first initiated but judging by Mazda having an approved line-up before pretty mcuh everyone else, I’d assume at least by early-mid last year. Again, when you think of all the amount of individual cars by pretty much all brands in the EU would have to be ready by ideally July this year, I’d assume this period extends (well I’d hope so) back quite a bit further than my estimation.

          A better system should’ve been in place definitely, even if it was just an extra testing facility. What also hasn’t helped manufacturers was a lot plans were constantly being updated left, right and centre until there was the definitive decision to when WLTP would come into effect. I assume manufacturers weren’t ready for such a short notice in March to say they have a 3 month embargo period from July to August where they have to sell all their outstanding non-compliant vehicles, before then releasing September’s ready cars…which of course not many brands had available (They’d be crushed if not as they weren’t going to be legally compliant, even if it could be solved by a software update)

          Magnify this considerably and you have a colossal waiting list for VWG from Audi to Skoda. It’s a ‘too little, too late’ scenario which is why sales-wise they’ve been hit hard, not only as individual brands but as a conglomerate too. Worst possible timing but serves them right. By not having legal / correct emission figures, they screwed themselves over as they had to do more than just adapt outgoing cars, like other brands did, to be WLTP compliant. Hence why most petrol engines got approved first.

  • Kagan

    Rich people with no taste.

  • ksegg

    Slightly OT, but I feel like the EU just constantly comes up with ever-ridiculous new auto laws to throw at manufacturers.

    What’s next, all interior trim panels have to be sourced from peanut shells? All cars must be able to run on dead fish?

    Come on!

    Laws like this is why NA has been phased out and we’re all running around with chuggy 4 bangers with turbo’s.

  • SteersUright

    Whatever…poor Bentley, my heart bleeds for the rich who haven’t received their overpriced toys and the days of showing off that’ve been delayed…
    That said, I did see some new Bentley sedan pass me on the highway. It was some kind of pearl white, massive, had real presence, and downright gorgeous. Now if only Chrysler could finally renew the 300C and just copy this stunning Bentley down to the last inch…

  • Six_Tymes

    “Bentley was too slow to prepare its cars for Europe’s new WLTP standard”

    so, that means its their own fault. cry me a river.

  • Enter Ranting

    What’s killing sales are it’s hideous looks.

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