Mercedes has big plans: what’s going on with Maybach?

Mercedes plans to relaunch ultra-luxury brand Maybach with an unrestricted styling approach to appeal to the ultra-rich.

Maybach has big plans for the maximalist limos it has occasionally made over the past 113 years, a lineup that now includes the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class and Mercedes-Maybach GLS.

There’s the two-tone Mercedes-Maybach S680 sedan developed by Virgil Abloh, the late Louis Vuitton’s men’s headwear, which will go on sale globally later this year with a limited range of 150 units. Also by Abloh, in collaboration with Gorden Wagener, the design director of the Mercedes Group: the all-terrain electric concept called Project Maybach.

Meanwhile, Mercedes-Maybach’s “High Car” concept, unveiled on May 18, promises curved door panels reminiscent of Chanel suits and a launch date of next year. A Mercedes-Maybach electric SUV will soon follow. There’s also a new business plan at Mercedes-Benz that focuses on high-tech vehicles with a higher margin, like those in the Maybach division, which has a fresh young executive a few months away. barely. its mandate.

With all this excitement, Maybach, it seems, could be ready for a revival.

“There has been a restart,” Mercedes-Benz CEO Ola Kallenius said in a May 18 interview in Monaco. “It’s the rejuvenation of the Maybach brand.”

A new attempt

Named after Wilhelm Maybach, a prolific engine designer and one of Gottlieb Daimler’s early collaborators, and founded with his son Karl in 1909, Maybach became synonymous with speed, power and prestige at the time. Until 1921 it produced cars such as the five-meter-long Maybach 22/70 hp W3 and the opulent Maybach SW 42, which featured new features such as power windows.

In 1960 Daimler-Benz AG acquired Maybach Motorenbau GmbH primarily to hold the rights to the engines.

In 2011, Daimler announced that it would sell the remaining models, effectively reassuring Maybach for the time being. Two-tone saloons have gone into a long hibernation over relevance, as Jay-Z and Kanye West featured a disassembled 2004 Maybach 57 in the music video for their song “Otis” in 2011.

Mercedes revived the Maybach badge at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show with the new Mercedes-Maybach nameplate, essentially a rebadged version of the iconic Mercedes S600 sedan. These modern Mercedes-Maybach vehicles are designed primarily for chauffeur travel and have come so densely packed with creature comforts that they feel closer to the business suite of a private jet than a car.

Since then, sales have continued to grow. Last year, Mercedes-Maybach sold 15,730 units globally, up 50% from 2020 and boosted mainly by China, where its cars are selling at a rate of more than 900 per month.

shock tactics

Maybach says he has a plan to conjure up something that will appeal to the ultra-rich.

“Maybach’s goal is not to produce new models even every year,” says Kallenius. “It just came to our knowledge at that time. Small volume, demanding customers. From time to time, we sprinkle the Maybach brand on certain products. “

The shock comes as much from the size and price of the vehicle as from all the additional cosmetic and customization options available. A Mercedes-Maybach S-Class starts at $185,000 – $74,000 more than a regular S-Class. And it’s bigger. Maybach sedans offer an 18cm longer wheelbase than the standard S-Class.

“Maybach wants to express wealth through its footprint, the size of the object,” says Frank Stephenson, a Moroccan-born American car designer who has worked for BMW, Mini, Ferrari, Maserati, Fiat, Lancia, Alfa Romeo and McLaren. .

No doubt, such enthusiasm helps ensure the cars appeal to Chinese buyers, who tend to pay for more extravagant models and are much younger and wealthier than consumers of Mercedes vehicles.

“The Chinese market is a younger market that isn’t shy about showing off its wealth, and Maybach certainly does that,” Stephenson says.

“China is the largest automotive market in the world. And it’s also the largest luxury car market in the world. And, of course, it’s the biggest Maybach market in the world,” says Kallenius.

“But the United States is very important. Western Europe is important. Korea is important. Japan is important. The Middle East is, of course, important. There are other markets around the world that are looking for the same type of vehicle. ”

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