Luxury carmaker Bentley had a record year in 2020 as other automakers struggled in pandemic

The 2020 Bentley Continental GT First Edition

Mack Hogan | CNBC

Bentley Motors sold a record number of its luxury sedans and SUVs last year as the rest of the auto industry struggled to stem losses from the coronavirus pandemic, the 101-year-old carmaker said Tuesday.

The Volkswagen-owned company sold 11,206 vehicles in 2020 — despite a seven-week closure of its factory in England during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic last spring. The company sold 11,006 cars in 2019.

Bentley sells some of the most expensive and rare cars in the world. Its entry-level SUV, the Bentayga, starts at around $180,000, while its most exclusive model, the Mulliner Bacalar, sells for around $2 million.

Bentley CEO Adrian Hallmark said he is “cautiously optimistic” regarding business in 2021 “as much remains uncertain,” according to a press release. He said last year’s sales record is a “strong measure” of the company’s potential as it pivots to become a fully electric car company by 2030.

Sales in the Americas rose by 4.2% and remained Bentley’s top market in 2020, but its growth came from a whopping 48.5% sales jump in China. The two markets accounted for 53% of Bentley’s sales in 2020, according to the company. That offset sales declines in the United Kingdom, Europe and the Middle East in 2020.

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