In an already crowded market for luxury sport-utility vehicles, Bentley Motors Limited is betting it can carve a niche for itself among ultra wealthy consumers who might consider the Mercedes-Benz M-Class or BMW X5 a little too gauche for their regal tastes.
The maker of the six-figure Continental GT and Flying Spur announced Tuesday it will invest more than 800 million pounds ($1.2 billion) to build its first SUV after its German parent, Volkswagen AG (FRA:VOW3), decided the new model would be built at Bentley’s Crewe, UK, headquarters. The SUV is scheduled to be on the market by 2016.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron traveled to Bentley headquarters on Tuesday to participate in announcing the project, which will create 1,000 local jobs.
“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,” Cameron said, referring to a government and industry partnership announced earlier this month. The partnership is designed to grow the UK auto industry, which employs 129,000 people directly and produces 1.6 million vehicles a year.
Bentley’s first SUV will likely be based on the EXP 9 F concept SUV that debuted at the 2012 Geneva Auto Show, though concept cars typically go through considerable changes in the development process.