Franz Josef Pefgen
(Franz-Josef Paefgen) Born in 1946 in Butten. He graduated from the universities of Karlsruhe and Aachen with a degree in mechanical engineering and economics, Ph.D. Since 1980 he has been working for Audi, since 1995 he has been a member of the board, and since 1998 he has been chairman of the Audi board of directors. Since 2002 - President of Bentley Motors.
- Not often company presidents come to the opening of dealerships. What prompted you to go to Rublevka?
- Russia has become for us the third largest market in Europe, and we expect that by the end of the year it will be third in the world in sales of Bentley. It is very important for us to take timely steps in this direction.
- Last year, 170 Bentley were sold in Russia. What are the forecasts for this year?
“I think two hundred is a very real number.” Sales are strongly influenced by the release of new models, and we will have a convertible this year. Much also depends on the ability to deliver the required number of cars.
- How are Bentley sales developing? After all, the number of buyers of such expensive cars is limited?
- Our policy is aimed at maintaining demand. As soon as a new attractive car appears on the market, the demand for it is booming. Then there is some decline, but the interest of fans of the brand is fueled by the development of the family. For example, first a new car is offered in a sedan, then a coupe and then a convertible.
- What ratio of sportiness and prestige in the Bentley brand do you think is reasonable? Which of these two concepts is more inherent in her?
- The secret of the brand is the combination of sportiness and luxury. Luxury cars are usually large and heavy. To be fast and dynamic, they need to be equipped with very powerful motors and efficient brakes. It is no accident that Bentley has the largest diameter of brake discs among the passenger cars and the most powerful motors. That's what makes these cars exceptional in luxury.
- For many, the situation with Bentley Motors looks very simple: the Germans bought the most prestigious English brand. Not a factory, not a production, namely a brand. Tell me frankly, how are things really?
- Of course, we bought a brand. But it is inseparable from its history, its image, its own, if you like, culture. All this must be taken into account if you intend to continue to work with this brand. In no case should we understand us like this: since the Germans bought the Bentley, then tomorrow the car will become German! "Bentley" is an English car and will remain so - with unique interior features and other family features. It is not so important who will continue the glorious traditions - German, French, Italian or English, the main thing is to preserve them and do it right. Automotive industry today is international, but the brands themselves have national features. At the factory "Bentley", in the English city of Crew, work English workers. They possess unique methods of processing leather, wood, and we carefully store them.
- And what about the technical excellence of modern Bentley?
- Buyers choose Bentley not for technical innovations, not for advanced ABS or ESP systems or other innovations in electronics. They pay for elegance and style. Bentley is a special brand. The person who bought any other car will show off how it is equipped. And the owner of the Bentley will simply say: “This is my Bentley!” And that’s all - no comments are required! This car can not be compared with anything. For example, there are restaurants that only talk about - I was there!
- Is there a Bentley lifestyle? For example, if you recall the legendary Bentley Boys racers?
- Yes, they were nice guys, they drank a lot of whiskey, talked a little and spent their lives driving Bentley racing cars. Well, today we are the first to finish. Our principle - sportiness and luxury at the highest level - is still relevant. There is no longer such a combination in the world.
- The maximum speed of many Bentley models exceeds 300 km / h. Heard that you provide special driving training for your customers. Why not conduct Bently Driving in Russia?
“Indeed, an attractive idea!” By the way, we only started such actions this year, and I well imagine how it will look in Moscow!
- Let me return to the question of the new owners of the Bentley. Tell me why the British sold the company?
- The thing is the lack of investment. Small firms are not able to keep up with technical innovation, not relying on the help of large concerns. At Bentley we tried to do everything ourselves - it didn’t work. Just not enough money!
- Excuse me, but cars cost 250 thousand euros ?!
- It's all about sales volumes - at Bentley they are very limited. The proceeds should be enough for research, testing, for the manufacture of new equipment and so on. It turns out that together these costs for a small company are five to six times higher than, say, for Audi or Volkswagen. The magic triangle - the price of the car, the amount of investment and the number of cars sold - must have the right balance.
- Do Bentley adapt for deliveries to Russia?
“This is completely unnecessary.” Other manufacturers increase the clearance and capacity of batteries for the Russian market. At Bentley, the driver lifts the body at the touch of a button and changes the stiffness of the shock absorbers in the same way. The car is literally crammed with electricity consumers, so it has two batteries, and one, the backup one, is always fully charged. This means that the engine can be started under any circumstances, even after a three-week stay in severe frost.
“They believe that real cars are handmade ones: the workers, touching the details, leave parts of their soul in them as well. How applicable is manual labor when creating the Bentley today?
“It takes 450 hours to get one Bentley car, and the share of manual labor is very high. For comparison: Volkswagen Golf takes 40 hours, Audi A8 - 70 hours. And in our Cotinental model only leather steering wheel upholstery takes 4 hours. Please note: the entire interior is done manually! Moreover, quality comes first. Almost manually assembled and the motor.
“So Bentley’s soul is fine?”
- In perfect order, and if you visit the factory, then see for yourself. We are not only allowed, but encouraged to ask any questions to those who assemble the car. And the workers will tell you why the Bentley is the best car in the world. By the way, each of our customers can visit the assembly shop and see how the car he ordered is born. Last year, the plant was visited by 10 thousand guests, most of them are customers waiting for their cars.