When the Felicity Ace car hauling ship caught fire, the timing couldn’t have been worse. In the midst of a pandemic when making vehicles was hard enough, losing around 4,000 fully built units was a big blow. But few of the brands were as significantly affected as Bentley.
The high-end British automaker produces expensive luxury vehicles, so it normally only puts between 40 and 70 vehicles on ships bound for America, according to Automotive News. The Felicity Ace, though, went down with 189 Bentleys onboard, 151 of which had been presold and custom-ordered.
That meant that a lot of customers who were looking to finally get their hands on the Bentley they had ordered, many crafted with the help of Mulliner, had to be told that their cars were actually unavailable just as they were finally supposed to arrive.
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Bentley‘s top brass reacted quickly to the emergency, though, and placed those orders back in its system before the ship even sank. Fortunately, the automaker was able to grab production slots that were higher on the list.
Bentley’s Chinese arm, for instance, was seeing low demand at the time, and was therefore able to wait a little longer for its vehicles. Shortly after the ship went down, Russia invaded Ukraine, meaning that production slots were no longer needed for many Russian customers.
Bentley‘s American dealers, meanwhile, were kept in the loop from day one. Although it helped enormously to know what was going on, dealer employees like Juan Hinestrosa, the general manager of sales at Bentley Miami, still had to tell customers what had happened. Fortunately, they took it well.
“It went smoothly,” Hinestrosa told AN. “It was taken very well by the customers, as much as it can be, anyway. Nobody got mad. I think people have changed their mood a little bit after COVID; people became more understanding.”
Naturally, it helped that communications were prompt and that they were able to provide their customers with a timeline for when they would receive their new car. Buyers were even offered the chance to alter their order, but just one Bentley Miami customer decided to change the color of their vehicle.
The ordeal has turned into a relative success for Bentley, which handled the unusual incident well. It could have easily gone the other way, though, since America is the brand’s biggest market and 189 vehicles is more than 20 percent of its annual sales in the country.
Finally, all 20 of the vehicles that were bound for Bentley Miami have been rebuilt and are now with their customers.