For years, the United States was the largest market for Bentley automobiles in the world. That changed in the first quarter of 2012, as sales in China surpassed sales in the United States.

This was despite a 40-percent growth in U.S. sales, too, which saw total volume reach 450 units in the first three months of this year. In the same time period, however, Chinese customers took home some 578 Bentley automobiles.

Bentley's chief operating officer, Christophe Georges, viewed China’s sales crown as short-lived, saying, “I don’t see (China’s lead) as a permanent situation.” As it turns out, these were prophetic words, since the United States has again taken the sales lead from China in the second quarter.

Overall, Bentley’s worldwide sales are up by some 32-percent, with sales increases realized in all regions. Sales in the United States grew by 25.7-percent, rising to 1,140 cars delivered in the first half of the year. Sales in China increased by 55.7-percent, rising to 1,059 units through June.

The hot seller in Bentley’s current product line is its Mulsanne flagship, which saw sales increase by 30-percent worldwide. Demand for the high-performance Continental GT W12 is also up, although Bentley didn’t reference by how much.

This much is clear: it’s anyone’s guess as to which market, China or the U.S., will come out on top at year end. Economic indicators seem to point to a slowing of both the U.S. and Chinese economies, but Bentley’s traditional customers seem to be immune from such concerns.