Mercedes-Benz is reviving the Maybach name for a second time to challenge Rolls-Royce and Bentley for the world’s wealthiest auto buyers.
Maybach, a 1930s-era marque, will become the ultra-luxury sub-brand of Mercedes, offering more spacious and opulent adaptations of cars like the S-Class sedan. The first vehicle in the rollout will debut later this month.
“The customer gets the best our house has to offer,” Ola Kaellenius, sales chief of the Daimler AG unit, said at an event today near Stuttgart, Germany. “I’m confident and optimistic that Maybach will be successful on the market.”
Mercedes is reversing a 2011 decision to end production of Maybach as part of a broader makeover of branding at Mercedes. Under a plan to rename its sport-utility vehicles, roadsters and coupes starting next year, the M-Class SUV becomes the GLE.
“They are cleaning up past mistakes that they allowed to produce chaos,” said Juergen Pieper, a Frankfurt-based analyst with Bankhaus Metzler. “It’s a good and logical move.”
With Mercedes seeking to leap from third to No. 1 in global luxury-car sales, the moves play catchup to rivals. BMW AG and Volkswagen AG are already active in the ultra-luxury segment with the Rolls-Royce and Bentley brands, respectively, while BMW and Volkswagen’s Audi also clearly distinguish SUVs from their mainline sedans and wagons.
Maybach, which was originally revived in 2002, will become the luxury equivalent of the AMG performance unit, which offers souped-up versions of cars including the A-Class hatchback. The first model will be the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class, which will be premiered in Los Angeles and Guangzhou, China.
The sub-brand will be distinguished from standard editions by having more space, special seats, “lavishly designed” interiors and more customization options, Mercedes said.
As an independent brand, Maybach — named after an early collaborator of Gottlieb Daimler, one of the automaker’s founders — failed to mount a serious challenge for ultra-luxury buyers because it lacked global name recognition. Deliveries peaked at about 600 cars in 2003, while Rolls-Royce and Bentley have gone on to post sales records.
The new Maybach models will be cheaper than the previous vehicles, which were individually built and cost more than $350,000, Mercedes said, without providing specifics. The company expects China to be the most important market.