Bentley Motors: Keeping Assembly at Home

The Bentley SUV

David Cameron visiting the Bentley factory in Crewe

David Cameron visiting the Bentley factory in Crewe

Bentley Motors recently confirmed that it will proceed with the development of the Bentley SUV, the company’s fourth model line. The SUV will be made in Crewe and will go on sale in 2016. It will create over 1,000 jobs in the UK. Over the next three years Bentley will invest more than £800 million in its headquarters at Crewe and the development of new models.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron was present together with Dr Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of the Board of Volkswagen Group, for the announcement at Bentley headquarters and said: “This £800 million investment and a thousand new jobs from Bentley is fantastic news for both Crewe and for the UK as a whole. It is another important milestone in strengthening our economy.”

“One sector that we know is sprinting ahead in the global race is our booming automotive industry. One vehicle rolls off a production line somewhere in the UK every 20 seconds and we have just launched the Government’s Automotive Industrial Strategy to help continue this success for years to come. I am delighted that Bentley will be building their new vehicle here, not only creating a thousand jobs, but safeguarding many more, as well as increasing training opportunities for highly skilled apprentices.”

Dr Winterkorn later added: “The Volkswagen Group believes in the UK as a competitive location for industrial production. Bentley fans all around the world are looking forward to the brand’s first SUV. Together we will make this new model another true Bentley – powerful, exclusive and successful.”

“This £800 million investment and a thousand new jobs from Bentley is fantastic news for both Crewe and for the UK as a whole. It is another important milestone in strengthening our economy.”

Business Secretary Vince Cable commented: “This is a welcome commitment to the UK from a major international car maker. Our automotive industrial strategy proves this government’s commitment to working with world-class companies like Bentley to create jobs and promote exports. This was the first firm I visited as a government minister and it serves as a real example of high-value manufacturing. They export more than four out of every five cars they build in the UK.”

Bentley’s Chairman and Chief Executive, Dr Wolfgang Schreiber, added: “This is excellent news for Bentley and for the UK. The company is increasingly successful and this new fourth model line will leverage the success of the global SUV market. The support of everyone involved with the company has been fundamental to this decision, which will ensure sustainable growth path.”

Bentley SUV

Bentley SUV

The SUV will be a thoroughbred Bentley true to the brand hallmarks of luxury, performance, quality and craftsmanship. The styling will set it apart from any other SUV on the road and will be true to the Bentley design DNA. It will be the most luxurious and most powerful SUV on the market. The response from customers to a Bentley SUV has been extremely positive in the last 16 months.

The Bentley Factory

Bentley Factory 1It was 75 years ago – in 1938 – that the first building block was placed at Pyms Lane, marking the beginning of Bentley’s now famous factory in Crewe.

Originally built to manufacture the Merlin engines which powered both Spitfire and Hurricane fighters, the factory is now home to more than 3,600 Bentley employees who helped manufacture over 8,500 Bentley cars last year for discerning customers all over the world.

Many great achievements have been made, and are still being made, at this factory – from its original construction to producing cars for over 60 years that sit at the pinnacle of luxury automotive manufacturing.

Continued investment, in both product development and facilities, and the dedication of many thousands of highly-skilled workers paved the way for Bentley’s business success.

In the months leading up to Monday June 20, 1938, Rolls Royce – then-owners of Bentley – was looking to expand production of its famed Merlin engine. The business considered different locations but ultimately picked Crewe for the quality and ready availability of engineers, and the existence of strong transport links.

Merrill’s Farm, Pyms Lane, was the chosen site and 60 acres of land were duly purchased for the sum of £99 per acre. Ground levelling started immediately and in October 1938 production started with 500 engines built. By the end of the following year over 2,000 employees were employed at the plant.

The arrival of the factory also had a considerable effect on the wider Crewe area with some 2,000 new houses built, many of which were to accommodate employees.

Production moved quickly and by 1945, over 15,000 aero engines had been built when the decision was made to shift to mostly car production. Just a year later, the first Bentley rolled out of the gates: The Mk VI.

Bentley Factory 2Car production remained at a pace. Presently, the Crewe factory’s output continues to grow. The Home of Bentley in Crewe is now considered as a Volkswagen Group Centre of Excellence for its Wood, Leather and Trim manufacturing departments.

Developments continue at the Pyms Lane factory, with Bentley keen to invest in new technologies as part of its position as the third largest investor in research and development of UK automotive industry.

The manufacturer recently installed 20,000 solar panels with a power generating capacity of 5MW in what is the UK’s largest roof-mounted solar panel installation. These panels will generate up to 40 per cent of Bentley’s energy requirements and reduce CO2 emissions by over 2,000 tonnes annually.

The panels will also generate enough energy to power over 1,200 households in Crewe, attesting to the valuable contribution the factory has made – and indeed continues to make – to the local and wider community.

Bentley at the Coronation Festival

Visitors to the Coronation Festival in July were able to enjoy a rare opportunity to see one of the most recognisable and elegant cars in the world: Her Majesty the Queen’s State Limousine.

This unique Bentley, presented to the Queen in 2002 to mark the 50th anniversary of her accession to the throne, was the centrepiece of a collection of Bentleys on display in Buckingham Palace Gardens throughout the celebrations.

Whilst the State Limousine is known to millions of people across the world, the Coronation Festival offered a superb opportunity for visitors to take their time to walk around the car and get closer than usually is possible. Her Majesty and The Royal Household kindly made the car available for the occasion.

The Queen at the Coronation Festival

The Queen at the Coronation Festival

Bentley’s craftsmen, designers and engineers (in partnership with several leading British automotive specialists) started work on ‘Project Diamond’ in 2000 with the clear objective of creating a truly elegant car suitable for every type of royal occasion.

The State Limousine is designed to ensure as many well-wishers as possible have the opportunity to see the Queen. For this Bentley created a ‘panoramic glasshouse’ and provided the vehicle with a significant lift to make it far higher than any other car. Additionally, the rear seat position was determined using a model of the same height as the Queen while the doors are hinged at the rear and open through 90 degrees to enable Her Majesty to almost walk out of the car.

Another highlight from Bentley at the Coronation Festival was the presence of the company’s flagship model: The Mulsanne. Blending refinement and performance with luxury features and technology, the Mulsanne offers the greatest of grand touring experiences. The car takes nearly 400 hours to create over half of which are dedicated exclusively to crafting the luxurious interior. Nearly 120 exterior colours are available as standard as well as 24 colours of leather. The steering wheel alone requires ten feet of thread and 620 stitches to complete.

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