Bentley CEO Wolfgang Duerheimer told Reuters he planned to go after Maybach’s high-rolling owners, which include movie stars Will Smith and Samuel L Jackson, baseball champ Alex Rodriguez, rappers Sean Combs, Birdman, Jay-Z and Kanye West, and royalty like the Sultan of Brunei and King Juan Carlos of Spain.
“The withdrawal of Maybach is a business opportunity for us and we’re going to use it,” Duerheimer said.
In November, Daimler CEO Dr Dieter Zetsche confirmed Maybach would return to the history books in 2013 as his company turns its focus to Mercedes-Benz as its ultimate luxury division. The next-generation S-Class, expected in 2013, will sit at the top of Daimler’s line-up, with the S600 Pullman rumoured to become the flagship model.
Duerheimer said Bentley has already heard from a number of Maybach owners and was busy courting others, many of whom he said felt somewhat abandoned by Maybach. “The comments I’m receiving aren’t very positive. They feel left alone.”
Bentley’s flagship car is the Mulsanne. The 2.6-tonne 6.8-litre twin-turbo V8 limousine costs $662,857 in Australia, barely half the price of the 2.9-tonne 5.5-litre twin-turbo V12 Maybach 62, which costs $1.15 million.
Daimler has sold just 13 Maybachs in Australia since the brand first arrived in 2004.
Meanwhile, a Rolls-Royce spokesperson told Automotive News it would not follow the aggressive conquest strategy of Bentley.
“[We would] naturally welcome any current Maybach owners … but seeking them out and hunting them down is not the Rolls-Royce way.”
Rolls-Royce’s most expensive car is the Phantom Drophead Coupe. The 2.6-tonne 6.7-litre V12 two-door is priced from $1.35 million in Australia.
As we reported last week, Rolls-Royce achieved a sales record in 2011, selling 3538 vehicles, while Bentley had its second-best year on record, with 7003 global sales.