The company has proved it can increase earnings dramatically by providing customers with more choice and more personalisation, rather than chasing volume or raising basic prices. Demand for customised luxury cars keeps rising and Bentley is doing a better job of meeting it.
Despite the success, Hallmark believes luxury car companies must beware what he calls the “fur coat effect” – negative actions from those who dislike or disapprove of them. Part of Bentley’s defence is a corporate philosophy, revealed at the firm’s centenary, called Beyond100, that aims to keep the company and its products relevant in fast-changing times by anticipating trends, demands and difficulties.
“Part of the reason for Beyond100 is existential,” the CEO explains. “If, for instance, we can claim zero carbon footprint – and our manufacturing processes already achieve that – we remove a potential threat. That’s also why we support the research into e-fuels and why we’re unwavering in our determination to have a fully carbon-neutral range of cars by 2030.”
On motorsport, traditionally a key part of Bentley DNA, Hallmark says it would have been “lovely” to return to Le Mans for this year’s centenary event, which is also the 100th anniversary of Bentley’s first entry and the 20th anniversary of the most recent Le Mans win.
The company looked briefly at competing in LMDh (a so-called Le Mans Daytona hybrid prototype formula for cars designed to compete alongside Le Mans hypercars) but decided it already had too much to do, first hybridising all of its models, then launching the five new EVs, including the promised all-new model.
“If we went racing, it would have to be global and full electric,” says Hallmark. “And it would need to be endurance racing, say four- or six-hour races, not Formula E.
There’s no maturity around plans for electric endurance racing. Maybe it needs battery swapping or fast charging – that would make for interesting pit stops – but there’s lots of work needed yet. We keep listening, and we stay in the committees, but we don’t have formal plans.”