From a New York Times business section article about the comeback in the luxury car market:
Outside of Minneapolis, for example, Morrie's Luxury Auto received 16 of Maserati's Ghibli sedans two days before Christmas and had two left on Dec. 26.
Morrie's is also selling two to four Bentleys a month at an average price of $225,000. About 40 percent of those sales are to companies that use them to transport clients and executives, the dealership said. It has benefited from the rising fortunes of large public companies in the area like 3M, Target, and General Mills.
Are executives at Target and General Mills, or even their customers, for that matter, really rolling around Minneapolis in company-owned Bentleys? If so you'd think the Times business section would find a way to report on this other than midway down the middle of an article about the comeback of the luxury car market. What do the shareholders make of these expenditures? How does Congress think these expenditures should be treated from a tax perspective? I can see justifying corporate jets for security reasons or for the time of the executive in traveling to destinations where commercial service is infrequent or inconveniently scheduled. But what's the advantage of a Bentley over a Cadillac or a Suburban or some less over-the-top ostentatiously expensive vehicle? I guess the companies can say in their defense that it's just a Bentley, not a full-on Rolls Royce. Volkswagen has owned the brand since 1998, so I guess the companies can also say in their own defense that it is just a souped-up Volkswagen.
In the context of one of these multi-billion-dollar companies, the price difference between a Bentley and a lesser vehicle isn't much. But maybe a decade ago I was present at a conversation between an executive of a British company and an executive of a publicly traded American company and the American was marveling, with some degree of admiration, that the Brit got driven to work in a Rolls Royce. The American made the point that this just would not be done in America, at least in New York City, even in firms with profits that dwarfed those of the British firm. Maybe things have changed, or maybe the Times just got it wrong in this story. I guess one positive way to look at it is that at least in America it is the middle-American corporate executives riding around in the Bentleys rather than the hereditary aristocracy.