The Artisanal Bentley
One of the characteristics of manufacturing in China is that the country’s factories churn out literally billions of products per year. It takes mass production to levels that would make Adam Smith’s, Frederick Taylor’s and Henry Ford’s heads explode.
Be that as it may, it seems as though the Chinese—like many people in other parts of the world—are more interested in an artisanal approach to some of the products that they consume.
Case in point: Bentley launched the Mulsanne First Edition models exclusively in China. There are three models: the Mulsanne, the Mulsanne Speed and the Mulsanne Extended Wheelbase.
These vehicles—which add luxury on top of luxury—are not only first editions, but they are a limited edition, as well: there are going to be 50 produced. Period.
These cars are “handcrafted in Crewe,” built by the technicians in the Bentley plant there.
Bentley, like all automobile manufacturers, likes to see increased sales. But what is an increase to that company is significantly different than what it is for your typical full-line manufacturer.
Last year the company delivered 10,100 vehicles—globally.
The biggest market was North America: 2,864.
Still, it is interesting that there is a recognition that uniqueness matters even in markets where products are made in relentless multitudes, and so even though by its very nature it is a limited-production purveyor of motor vehicles, there is even more exclusivity that can be achieved.
What happens if that $2.29 a gallon goes up by a couple of bucks a year from now? How are the pickup, SUV and crossover sales going to be then?
Outside of a pickup truck, there is no vehicle that’s sold in greater units than the Toyota RAV4. So when they developed the new generation, they had a whole lot to consider.
To know that 3,000 cars have been delivered since October 2015 would undoubtedly result in a shrug: in 2017 Toyota delivered 387,081 Camrys, so that 3,000 is less than one percent, and this is in one year, not just over two.