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Continental GT delivery delay hits Bentley dealers

Instead of hitting showrooms this month as planned, Bentley's Continental GT will not meet orders until sometime in the first quarter of next year – and dealer revenues have not yet justified standards compliance costs.

German trade paper Autohaus reports dealers' annoyance at the delay in fulfilling orders for Bentley's crucial Continental GT model, which has a waiting list some 18 months' long. Delays are said to originate at the body panel pressing plant at Zwickau, leading to shortages of parts at the Crewe assembly plant.

Some dealers have reportedly voiced concern about the cost of meeting the new Bentley franchise standards without the sales to justify the investment; last year, Bentley's German sales have totalled 57 units, with 30 sold in the first nine months of this year, while German orders for the new model are estimated to total some 150 units. The Bentley outlet of Hahn & Lang-Gruppe, the 32-outlet VW Group and Porsche dealer based at Stuttgard is reported to h have lost some €1 million since the beginning of 2000, and sold no more than 12 new Bentleys in 2002. It currently has orders for some 50 Continental GTs.

- Volkswagen's Works Council chairman Klaus Volkert voiced criticism of Europe's largest manufacturer's move upmarket with models such as the Phaeton and Touareg, and its investment in luxury brands such as Bentley and Bugatti, at a meeting of the council on 31 October. Volkert expects demand for relatively expensive cars to decline in several of VW's markets as health, retirement and education costs take a rising proportion of family incomes. However, while Phaeton sales have reportedly been below target, VW has just reported moves to create additional capacity for the Touareg SUV in its Slovakian assembly plant by shifting other models between plants.

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