A replacement for the ill-fated Maybach brand is continuing to be assessed internally, with an expanded from within Mercedes-Benz S-Class line-up the most likely option to stretch back towards seven-figure ultra-exclusive limousine territory.
It has long been rumoured that the Maybach successor will be the revival of the S-Class Pullman (above), a stretched version of the S-Class with hugely expanded rear legroom, but executives within Mercedes-Benz insist it won’t be a direct replacement.
“The Pullman is the successor of the Pullman,” contends Mercedes-Benz head of product management for S-Class and roadsters Lutz Regelmann.
“I don’t think the Pullman is the successor to the Maybach.”
Regelmann instead believes that the new S-Class itself can fulfil the wants of Maybach buyers for a much lower price, refuting the notion that Mercedes-Benz needs to find a successor to the Maybach to fill a higher price bracket.
In a rare case of a brand seeking to bring previous customers from higher-priced models into lower priced ones, Regelmann wants to do exactly that with previous Maybach customers by introducing them to the S-Class.
“You can bring the car to a value,” he admits.
“The S-Class cannot fully replace the Maybach but it could come very close. It could come substantially close.
“Of course we should target these [Maybach] customers, and we know we can get the Bentley Flying Spur customers. Internally when I talk to my markets, I say [about the new S-Class] ‘outside S-Class, inside Maybach’, because when you look at the features, the leather quality, reclining seats, footrests, the only thing you don’t get is the separation wall…
“Yes we are not in the top, top league of the segment anymore. But with an S-Class you can get a similar standard. Maybe you don’t get the top premium … but you can easily get a Maybach customer in that car.
“We want to gap the part to the Maybach segment and bring them [buyers] into the S-Class. [But] the intention is not to replace the Maybach.”
The intention is, however, to move the S-Class significantly more upmarket, something that new derivatives such as the long-wheelbase V12 versions, new Coupe and Pullman will do.
Regelmann contests that, in volume terms based on previous sales figures, the possibilities with an expanded S-Class range far exceed those of a potential dedicated Maybach replacement.
“You know we are thinking about derivatives … separate versions of the S-Class, but again it’s an S-Class, it’s the S-Class family we’re going to open up, we are going to extend the wheelbase again [with Pullman], but it’s an S-Class.
“Of course we want to touch that segment, we don’t want to lose our customers, but it’s not completely covering the segment. The S-Class is the S-Class, it’s a business and luxury limousine in a large scale.
“We have sold over 500,000 [units] of the W221 [S-Class]; for Maybach we have sold a couple of thousand. It [S-Class] is not a one-by-one replacement, but of course it’s a … very good value solution for Maybach customers.”