VW's luxury UK carmaker Bentley says China slowdown continues
LONDON, Oct 10 (Reuters) - Sales of British luxury Bentley cars to China fell 17 percent in the first nine months of 2013, adding to other indications that the market for high-end goods in China is shrinking.
Sports car maker Lamborghini and firms such as LVMH and Burberry have warned of a significant slowdown in China over the last year due, in part, to a crackdown on lavish spending as well as a slowdown in growth. Analysts say luxury cars, which have come to symbolise corruption in China, are especially vulnerable to the crackdown.
Bentley Motors, owned like Lamborghini by Germany's Volkswagen, hopes its Chinese slowdown is a blip and that the launch in China of its redesigned Flying Spur, which has a six-litre, 12-cylinder engine with a top speed of 200 miles per hour, will boost sales there.
Sports car maker Jaguar, which pitches its vehicles at a slightly lower, broader segment of the luxury market, appears to have bucked the trend with the help of its new F-Type model, increasing its sales in China by 122 percent this year. Jaguar is part of Tata Motors' JLR.
Bentley's worldwide car deliveries were up 9 percent in the first nine months to 6,516, fuelled by sales in the Americas, its biggest market, which rose 16 percent to 2,022 cars, it said on Thursday.
It delivered 1,264 cars to China, and European deliveries were up 14 percent to 1,081.
The group, based in the English town of Crewe, cited a particularly strong performance from its W12 models, with sales of the Continental GT Speed and Continental GT Speed Convertible improving in all its territories.
Kevin Rose, Bentley's head of sales, said he was optimistic that worldwide sales growth would exceed 10 percent for 2013.
Bentley's success is in stark contrast to the struggles of rival British luxury carmaker Aston Martin, which has seen profits fall and this week scrapped its Cygnet city car after dire sales.
Earlier this year, Volkswagen gave Bentley the nod to build its first sport-utility vehicle, venturing beyond its speciality of sleek, growling road cars. 1/2ID:nL6N0FT1HI 3/8