After seven years and only 3000 sold units, the Maybach brand will bite the dust in 2013. It its place, Mercedes will challenge Bentley and Rolls Royce with up to seven different luxury cars derived from the next S-class due, you guessed it, in 2013.
What went wrong with Maybach?
Was it the name, the product, the positioning, the price? Short answer: all of the above, and more. The Maybach's homespun design which bumped a few branches on the ugly tree on the way down certainly did not help, and when the new S-class was launched in 2005, the Maybach 57/62 was stuck with the previous platform, with dated electronics and fast-ageing powertrains.
Despite the slow start, Messieurs Hubbert, Schrempp and Zetsche failed to fill the Maybach brand with meaningful content. Instead of receiving the first-ever production fuel-cell, a special halo version of the Bluetec engine family or an early plug-in hybrid system, Maybach never really stood for anything but beautifully executed luxury, conservative styling and debatable social acceptance.
Even though the personal liaison managers who operated out of pompous shop-in-shop lounges rarely sold more than 150 to 300 Maybachs per year, the top management was so busy dealing with other corporate casualties like Mitsubishi, Chrysler and Smart that the only rescue plan they eventually agreed on was a near-instant exit. Click here to read the news of Daimler announcing Maybach's death.
How much money Daimler lost on Maybach
Over time, Daimler sunk €1 billion into its double-M adventure. Despite a lofty list price of between £279,000 and £367,000 in the UK, the car maker lost over €330,000 on every Maybach it sold, CAR has calculated.
The sole significant addition to the range was the mega-expensive Landaulet which found only a handful of takers.
The stillborn Maybachs that could have been
Among the proposals that did not make it to production were a Maybach GL high-end SUV with sleeper seats in row two and a bespoke exterior, an entry-level short-wheelbase Maybach 52 and a four-door Maybach 57 convertible which was turned into the Mercedes Ocean Drive concept at the eleventh hour.
As revealed by CAR, Daimler and Aston Martin did indeed talk about building a new generation of Maybachs and the Aston-designed 57/62 replacement was on the shortlist for 2011's Frankfurt show. An all-new Maybach family would have featured five different amazing bodystyles, according to our sources.
If the latter game plan had materialised, Audi may have relaunched Horch, and BMW would have extended the Rolls-Royce line-up much more aggressively.
But it was not to be. Instead of throwing more good money after bad, Mercedes decided to put Maybach to sleep and to give the three-pointed star a much more ambitious high-end portfolio.
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