BERLIN — Bentley’s first-half results swung to a record profit from a loss during the same period last year during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earnings were driven by strong growth in China.
Operating profit for January to June was 178 million euros ($210 million) compared with a loss of 99 million euros, Bentley said in a statement.
The first-half earnings were higher than the ultraluxury automaker’s 170 euro-million profit posted for the full year in 2014, the company’s previous best result.
Bentley sold a record 7,199 cars during the first six months, returning a margin of 13 percent.
The double-digit return on sales was “validation” that Bentley could deliver a sustainable business model, CEO Adrian Hallmark said in the statement on Wednesday.
“We have worked relentlessly to transform our entire organization through productivity improvements and cost efficiencies,” he said.
Bentley has struggled in recent years to be consistently profitable and in 2019 the UK-based company was given an ultimatum to become profitable in two years by its owner Volkswagen Group’s main shareholders, the Porsche and Piech families.
Sales in China grew 73 percent to 2,155 cars in the first six months to make the country Bentley’s biggest market globally for the first time in almost a decade. Demand in China was driven by the company’s Flying Spur sedan, Bentley said.
The U.S. with sales of 2,049 was pushed to second place while Europe excluding the UK was No. 3 with a volume of 1,142.
The sales split between the brand’s three main models were similarly well-balanced, Bentley said.
The Bentayga SUV was the automaker’s most popular model with 2,767 units sold, followed by the Continental GT coupe at 2,318 and the Flying Spur at 2,063.
Bentley this year launched a plug-in hybrid version of the revamped Bentayga and later this year will begin sales of a plug-in hybrid version of the Flying Spur.
The sedan will use the same VW Group V-6 hybrid drivetrain as the Bentayga. The two models are the start of an electric strategy that will see Bentley offering only plug-in hybrid or full-electric vehicles by 2026 and only full-electric vehicles by 2030.
Hallmark said Bentley still faced risks in the second half, including the government-enforced self-isolation of workers in the UK who come in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
The isolation rule has affected production at UK plants run by Nissan and Stellantis. “We are not taking the full year outlook for granted,” Hallmark said.