21 November, 2018

Bentley highlights WLTP struggle as Volkswagen continues its struggle with supplies

Bentley was too slow to prepare its cars for the new WLTP emissions programme, causing big problems for the company.

CEO Adrian Hallmark’s comments come as parent company Volkswagen has released its October delivery figures, highlighting the impact the new testing regime has had on the carmaker.

The luxury carmaker lost €137 million Euros in the first nine months of 2018, compared with earning a small profit in the same period during 2017, according to Volkswagen’s latest financial report.

Speaking to Automotive News Europe, Hallmark said that Bentley’s cars ‘got stuck in the queue’ for testing under WLTP rules, introduced for all new vehicles from 1 September this year.  ‘We were not quick enough, unfortunately, to book capacity or prioritise our derivatives within some of the group processes to get them certified on time,’ he added.

Bentley sales are down 11% year-to-date, with just 6,643 units leaving dealerships. Hallmark believes that the delays with WLTP have cost the company around 300-400 sales.

The delay has also forced the carmaker to push back its launch of the plug-in hybrid version of its Bentaya SUV, which will now go on sale in March next year. This was to allow the company to test more of its high-volume models.

‘There has not been capacity around Europe to test all the derivatives, so we have had to be ruthless in that prioritisation,’ Hallmark said.

Meanwhile, as a result of the changeover to the new WLTP test procedure, the Volkswagen Group delivered fewer vehicles in October than in the prior-year month.

A total of 846,300 vehicles were handed over to customers throughout the world, a fall of 10.0%. In the month under review, the fall in deliveries in Europe, at 15.6% compared with the previous year, was significantly less pronounced than in September.

Christian Dahlheim, Head of Group Sales, comments: ‘As regards the WLTP changeover, we have already passed the low point in Europe. This positive development should continue in November and December as all our brands continue to make progress with the changeover of models to the new test cycle. For the year as a whole, we expect deliveries to slightly exceed the prior-year figure.’

Western Europe continued to report weaker figures as a result of the WLTP changeover. In October, 229,300 vehicles were handed over to customers, 19.3% fewer than in October 2017. In the home market of Germany, the negative impact was especially pronounced, with a fall of 23.2%.

Volkswagen admitted in August that around half of its models, including its popular Golf, had not cleared WLTP and would not do so by the time of its introduction.