Mercedes-Benz’s parent company Daimler has pulled the deep-pile rug from under its loss-making Maybach brand, its rival for Rolls-Royce.
The German luxury car maker will discontinue the Maybach brand in 2013, which has failed to match Daimler’s sales expectations and been the subject of persistent rumours since being revived 11 years ago.
Daimler CEO Dr Dieter Zetsche confirmed to a German newspaper at the weekend that the company would instead focus on its Mercedes-Benz brand in the highest echelons of luxury motors.
“We held extensive discussions internally about which way would promise the greatest success in the luxury segment, and we came to the conclusion that the sales chances for the Mercedes brand were better than that of Maybach. It would not be sensible to develop a successor model for the current Maybach,” Dr Zetsche told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
Maybach was relaunched in 2002 after Daimler missed out on buying British luxury marques Rolls-Royce and Bentley, which ended up in the hands of compatriots BMW and Volkswagen respectively.
Two twin-turbocharged V12 models were created initially, both based on a stretched version of an early-1990s-generation Mercedes S-Class platform and bearing names – 57 and 62 – that referred to their differing wheelbases of 5.7 and 6.2 metres.
The million-dollar limousines were introduced to Australia in 2004 but sales have reflected the global struggle, which had seen Maybach worldwide figures slow to about 200 in 2010.
Mercedes-Benz Australia has sold only 13 Maybachs in seven years, with not a single model rolling out of showrooms in 2010. Rolls-Royce sold 25 models last year, which included its main Maybach rival, the million-dollar-plus Phantom.
This year the company removed Maybach from VFACTS, the Australian car industry’s official sales listings.
Mercedes had been in discussions with Aston Martin about a collaboration based around next-generation Maybach models before the plan was aborted this year.
Autoweek says a senior Daimler insider has told them Mercedes will compensate for the loss of Maybach by expanding the S-Class range with the next-generation model due in 2013.
The source said Mercedes plans to offer the S-Class in six body styles and with different wheelbases, with a S600 Pullman model positioned as the flagship.