We’ve all been aware of Bentley’s upcoming foray into the SUV market since it revealed its EXP 9 F concept at the Geneva Auto Show a little while back. And there’s good indication company is preparing to bring this concept vehicle to fruition, as its facility in Crewe is undergoing some major overhauls, presumably in preparation for the upcoming production.
To be exact, a £40 million (roughly $6.2 million) expansion is underway to prepare the new vehicle’s manufacturing. The expansion will include a styling studio dedicated solely for the SUV, as well as offices or research and development and a technical workshop. 300 new roles will be created and the 45,000-square-meter facility will be home to over 1,300 Bentley engineers.
This is positive news for the people of Crewe, who see manufacturing jobs come their way, as opposed to being relegated to the Bratislava plant in Slovakia, where SUVs built under the Volkswagen banner are produced. While the SUV will still most likely to be based on the next-gen Touareg/Audi Q7 platform, we know that the exterior is undergoing more than a few changes.
Shortly after the reveal of the concept, and auto journalist’s collective cry of “no thanks,” in response to the exterior, Bentley Chairman Wolfgang Dürheimer stated that the production SUV will look “completely different” than the Mulsanne-inspired concept. We’re sure there will be a huge rethink of the design choices in response, but we’re going to take such a claim of drastic changes with a grain of salt.
We won’t have to wait for much longer, however, as the facility ramp up and a target for the SUV to hit roads in 2016 mean that we should get a glimpse of the British luxury carmaker’s first utility vehicle sooner than we think.