Bentley’s Profit Buoyed by Customized Cars

The British car maker said seven out of 10 customers spent more than $43,000 on customizing their new rides.

Photo of a blue Bently car
Photo by C B via Unsplash

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Maybe EVs aren’t so hot right now, but bedazzling your car sure is.

Luxury carmaker Bentley reported its second-biggest annual profit ever on Tuesday, and put its success down to more customers opting for bespoke vehicles. The question is: Did any of them spring for the ejector seats and grappling hooks favored by Bentley’s most famous (and fictional) patron? 

Brunei State of Mind

According to Bentley, an overwhelming majority of the 13,560 cars it sold in 2023 had some level of customization included by buyers. Per the Financial Times, CEO Adrian Hallmark described the increase in demand for customization as “jaw-dropping,” adding: “Previously it would be one person in Brunei, now we have a handful of people [for whom] we are actively engaged in creating one-off cars.” Per the FT, seven out of 10 customers spent more than €40,000 ($43,000) on customizations, and some customers requested so many alterations it doubled the base price of the car. Those are some platinum bells and whistles.

Millionaire-class stylizing notwithstanding, the company also gently tweaked its EV transition goals for 2030 and leaned more into its hybrid car offerings, a move that’s also very in vogue at the moment:

  • Bentley had previously said it planned to sell only EVs after 2030, but that goal has been retired. Although most prospective Bentley buyers probably aren’t worried about affording an EV, given 70% of them are willing to trick their cars out with extra wood paneling or fiberglass, Hallmark made it sound like the difficulty in shifting to EVs is more infrastructural.
  • “We have seen a definite change, not just in the UK, but globally in respect of regulations and governments taking a different view on the rate of movements towards full EVs,” Hallmark said, per the FT.

Hybrid vehicles are far outpacing EVs, with US sales of hybrid cars rising 50% in the first two months of 2024 compared to just 13% for EVs, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Vorsprung Durch EVs: Although Bentley is joining a list of companies extending their EV timelines, one major automaker is sticking to its guns. Audi’s CEO said Tuesday that despite market headwinds the company will continue its EV strategy, planning to release its last-ever combustion engine car in 2026. That’s just two more years of gas-guzzling, folks.