Pour one out for the Bentley Mulsanne; the big, British sedan isn't long for this world. Mulsanne production is scheduled to end later this year, with the serving as the Big B's swan song. And as it turns out, this will likely be the end of the road for Bentley's flagship, full stop.
"The customer for that kind of vehicle is disappearing," Adrian Hallmark, Bentley's chairman and CEO, told us at the company's headquarters in Crewe, England this week. "People just don't like big sedans."
Bentley never expected the Mulsanne to be a high-volume vehicle, but over time, as the company's market share increased, sales of its largest four-door actually decreased. To wit: Hallmark says that when he worked for Bentley the first time, some 20 years ago, "We used to sell 1,200 Arnages [globally] a year." Now, despite Bentley being more popular than ever, "we sell 550 Mulsannes."
Hallmark admits, "Mulsanne is in a demographic bubble. It appeals to a certain demographic, and as they get older and don't want to spend $400,000 or $500,000 on a day-to-day car anymore ... they buy a Flying Spur, or they buy a Bentayga." The outlier folks who still might be interested in a Mulsanne would "much rather have a [Continental] GT or a Bentayga," Hallmark said.
This even applies to China, where long-wheelbase executive sedans are incredibly popular among the wealthy. "If we did a longer-wheelbase Bentayga, every single one of those Mulsanne customers in China would take that instead," Hallmark said.
And therein lies the potential solution for a new range-topping Bentley model: "We'd love to make a more luxurious, even bigger Bentayga," Hallmark said. He wouldn't offer any further comment on this when asked, only telling us to "watch this space."
Another possibility would be to fill the Mulsanne void with something from Bentley's rekindled foray into coach-building, kicked off this week with. Hallmark said Mulliner products like this "will complement the core business" and "create a halo for the brand."
But as it stands, "Big, big sedans are not as popular," Hallmark said. So while Bentley will always cater to the highfalutin set who buy vehicles like the Mulsanne, what that vehicle looks like in the future could be very, very different.