Coming off record sales of 10,014 vehicles last year, Bentley's performance in 2008 hasn’t been going so well, with the current economic crisis starting to take its toll. This is especially the case in the United States, traditionally the strongest market for Bentley.

The changing market conditions have forced Bentley to reduce production levels by up to 15%, but the news isn’t all bad as growth in emerging markets such as China is still going strong. Though still far below levels in the U.S., Bentley is achieving remarkable sales growth in China, selling just 36 cars when it debuted in the market back in 2002, with the numbers approaching nearly 500 units for this year.

Bentley expects the luxury car market in China to grow stably in the coming years. Within four years, more Bentley cars are expected to sell in China than in the United States, the carmaker’s Chinese boss Zheng Biao said during a recent interview with Automotive News China.

China is currently the fifth biggest market for Bentley, accounting for roughly 10% of the carmaker’s sales. Bentley is hoping to sell more than 1,000 units annually in China by 2012, which would put it ahead of the U.S. in terms outright sales.