Bentley SUV approved by VW board, report says

Bentley’s new SUV has been approved for production by parent Volkswagen, a German newspaper said.

VW’s supervisory board has agreed to build an ultraluxury vehicle based on the EXP 9F concept unveiled at the Geneva auto show last year, Handelsblatt reported on Monday, citing board sources.

The SUV, internally codenamed Falcon, will retail starting at 200,000 euros ($271,000), the paper said. The model will likely be built at VW’s plant in Slovakia, with final completion taking place at Bentley’s plant in Crewe, England.

Bentley did not confirm the report. ”We are still waiting for the official green light from Volkswagen,” a spokeswoman told Automotive News Europe, adding that a decision in favor of production looks ”very positive.”

Bentley CEO Wolfgang Schreiber said at the Detroit auto show last month that the SUV’s design will resemble the rest of the Bentley brand rather following than the controversial design of the EXP 9F concept. He said that the SUV is expected to launch within three years. The SUV likely will use an eight-cylinder engine and possibly an optional W-12, he said.

The SUV will play a key part in Bentley’s growth ambitions. Last year, the brand’s global unit sales increased 22 percent to 8,510 cars. Bentley is targeting sales of up to 5,000 SUVs per year, according to Handelsblatt.

The vehicle would join similar models planned by Lamborghini and Maserati aimed at tapping into a growing market for ultraluxury SUVs among the super-rich in countries such as China and Russia.