April 19, 2024

Bentley Motors is best known for its lines of luxury SUVs and cars.

Bentley Motors is best known for its lines of luxury SUVs and cars.
Photo: Gareth Cattermole (Getty Images)

Bentley Motor’s sales are down because even its base of ultra-wealthy customers is worried about paying off a new car, according to its chief executive officer.

“Even though our customers can still afford our cars, there was a level of emotional sensitivity that slowed down demand,” CEO Adrian Hallmark told reporters on Thursday, according to CNN. Specifically, Bentley’s customers are sensitive about high interest rates, a spokesperson later elaborated to CNN.

About 30% of customers leased Bentleys last year, rather than purchased, indicating that even wealthy consumers are worried about being roped into monthly payments on a pricey new vehicle. The average monthly payment on a new vehicle in the U.S. was $739 on a 68-month loan, according to Edmunds.com.

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The British luxury carmaker’s sales dropped 11% in 2023, led by weaker sales in its three top markets — Europe, China, and the Americas. But 2023 was still Bentley’s third-best year on record for sales, with 13,560 units delivered.

On Friday, just a day after Hallmark’s comments were first reported, the executive said he would be departing the Volkswagen Group’s brand after a six-year tenure. Hallmark will now lead luxury sports car maker Aston Martin, becoming the company’s third new chief executive since 2020.

“The transformation of Aston Martin is one of the most exciting projects within the ultra-luxury automotive industry,” Hallmark said. “I am looking forward to continuing the Company’s great momentum and utilizing my experience and passion to further unleash this iconic brand’s potential and take it to even greater success.”

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