It appears an even-money bet that the ultra-luxury brand Mercedes-Maybach will add an SUV to its ranks in the future, but there won't be an E-Class Maybach variant despite persistent rumours.
The only Mercedes-Maybach models currently on sale are the Mercedes-Maybach S600 and the even lengthier Pullman version, but with SUVs proving lucrative, the range is almost certain to expand to include a high-riding, long-wheelbase, ultra-luxury vehicle of that type.
Whether it’s based on the just-updated Mercedes-Benz GLS flagship SUV or will be held off until the next-generation version of that vehicle arrives – possibly around 2019 – remains unclear.
But what is clear, according to Ola Källenius, member of the board of management of Daimler AG, Mercedes-Benz Cars marketing and sales, is that the SUV model “needs to be the highest exclusivity corner”.
“I think there’s scope for growth for the Maybach brand, but there’s a significant difference compared to the way we’re doing AMG, where you can really do top to bottom. So an A45 is kind of the coolest hatch you can buy, and of course an S63 – if you’re looking for performance in the luxury segment, that’s what you get,” he said.
“That does not apply for Maybach,” Källenius explained.
“Maybach needs to be the highest exclusivity corner of the Mercedes-Benz family. So only at the very top end would I see potential other derivatives for Maybach, and not going downwards,” he said.
There had been rumours of an E-Class Maybach model (pictured below in prototype guise), but Källenius cleared the slate in that regard.
“An E-Class Maybach, for instance, is not something that we have on the cards – it will, if and when we do more, will stay at the very top end of the range,” he said.
Maybe that stretched E-Class is just that – a long-wheelbase E-Class for some markets. In China, it’s a common business practice for car companies to lengthen their models to make for more luxurious accommodation for those in the rear.
That could happen for the first ever Maybach SUV, and Källenius made it clear that with the renaming of the GL model to be the GLS in line with its S-Class flagship equivalent, that it is “possible” that a high-end, ultra-luxury SUV to compete with the likes of the just-released Bentley Bentayga and the ultra luxury Range Rover Autobiography will eventuate.
“GLS is the S-Class of the SUVs, so I wouldn’t rule that out,” he said. “GLS, based upon the GLS could be a candidate – not the decision made at this time – but that could be a candidate.”
Källenius said the repositioning of the Maybach brand to become a more integrated part of the Mercedes family – with lower prices and the Mercedes brand attached – has paid dividends.
“What’s interesting is that this restart of the Maybach story with a slightly different strategy, has had a phenomenal start. We sell more Mercedes-Maybach per month in China than we sold in our best year with the old Maybach per year.
“It’s a different strategy, it’s a different price point – but still, at the very top of the portfolio, so it’s not like it’s inexpensive. You get a lot of car but you pay a bit more,” he said.