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Bentley eyes ultra-exclusive auto collectors' segment

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[January 14, 2014]  DETROIT (Reuters)  British luxury brand Bentley sees a market for ultra limited-edition vehicles that appeal to clients who place a premium on scarcity, Kevin Rose, board member for sales, said on Monday.

Bentley has not made a decision on whether to build such a vehicle but is keenly observing competitors who build cars costing more than $1 million, such as Aston Martin, which built the one-77, or Lamborghini which built the Veneno.

"There is a trend toward greater individualization and collectibles, a limited run of a particular model," Rose said in an interview at the Detroit auto show.

"We think there is room for one or two models or derivatives which take us in to those categories," he said, adding that Bentley had not taken any decisions on whether to go ahead and produce such a vehicle.

Exclusivity is a strong selling point which has helped push demand for mechanically similar products in other industries, such as luxury watches, Rose said.

"Watches and cars do bear some comparison. The reason for choosing them is not purely functionality."

Bentley also wants to win over new clients by entering new segments such as the sport utility vehicle market, which the British automaker plans to enter in 2016.

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"It's targeting customers we currently don't talk to," Bentley Chief Executive Wolfgang Schreiber told Reuters on Monday.

Bentley sees potential for annual sales of at least 3,000 SUVs, Schreiber said. After unveiling an SUV concept car, Bentley received 2,000 orders for the vehicle, even though the carmaker had not yet decided on the price tag or whether to put it into production, Schreiber said.

(Reporting by Edward Taylor and Irene Preisinger; editing by Matthew Lewis)

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