Options: It has been a few years since the launch of Bentley’s Beyond100 strategy — what has progress been like?
Wayne Bruce: We announced Beyond100 on Nov 5, 2020. And much has happened since on our path to becoming a leader in sustainable luxury mobility. It’s visible already in the many changes that have been made to our historic site in the north west of England, with more to come. But much is invisible to the outside world because it relates to secret development work on our next generation of electric vehicles, of which there are five launched between 2026 and 2030. This is being enabled by a self-funded £2.5 billion investment we announced earlier this year in front of 2,000 manufacturing staff.
Tell us about Bentley’s recent initiatives to champion sustainable luxury mobility.
In terms of product, we are one of the few luxury car companies to offer a range of plug-in hybrid models. A technology that’s key in our transition to full electric while the public charging infrastructure is still developing. And the cars are already proving a hit with our customers. One in four Bentaygas are being ordered with the petrol-electric hybrid drivetrain and forward orders for the new Flying Spur Hybrid are similar.
Did the pandemic hasten or delay the implementation of any planned initiatives?
Neither, though it did delay the external announcement of the strategy, which we ended up doing virtually.
What was the pandemic like for you, personally? As director of communications, how did you keep it flowing?
It was relentless yet rewarding. It forced us to try new things — a good thing — and also reinforced the importance of internal communications to keep our factory going, our colleagues motivated, and the site free of Covid.
How has Bentley fared bearing in mind the challenges of the last two years, what with the pandemic and the Ukraine War?
We have been extremely fortunate in that we have continued to achieve record sales and record profits quarter after quarter. We also have not been impacted by the parts supply challenges others did, due to the benevolence of our group parent.
Has withdrawing from the Russian market affected your bottom line very much, and has the war caused any supply chain issues?
It hasn’t impacted us at all. Build slots that were destined for Russian customers were reallocated to other regions. And no supply chain issues, thankfully, either.
Which model has sold in the highest numbers, and why?
The Bentayga SUV is our best-selling nameplate. Probably because it has the widest brief of any car on sale. Its breadth of capabilities is vast. It can tow, be a luxury limo, carry up to seven people, go far off-road and is quite handy on a race track, too.
Do you have a favourite model, and what do you love most about it?
Definitely the new Bentayga S. For all the above plus its beautiful Alcantara-trimmed interior and exciting exhaust note. But I’m also rather partial to the hybrid version for the opposite reason. There is equal beauty in silence.
What’s good to do in Crewe for anyone planning a visit — outside of visiting Bentley’s headquarters of course?
I love the countryside around Crewe. Hills, rivers, beautiful scenery, we have it all.
What are three good restaurants you’d recommend in Crewe, or nearby Chester?
Sorry to say, I’ve hardly eaten out since I joined Bentley. But we use a local pub called The Bear’s Paw for visiting guests. They always seem to love it.
What are you reading right now, and anything good you’d recommend to binge on TV?
I’m embarrassed to say I only really read car magazines these days. For work as much as pleasure. But for binge watching, I can’t recommend highly enough Schitt’s Creek. I’ve watched it right through twice. And plotting a third, as the writing is so clever. Funny, too.
What do weekends look like for you, generally?
I live in Crewe Monday to Friday, so on weekends, it’s lovely just to be home with my husband and dogs Bertie and Shaun.
This article first appeared on Sept 19, 2022 in The Edge Malaysia.