By on June 19, 2011

 

The sad story of Maybach’s mini boom-and-bust, reborn in the go-go 90s only to die in the “Great Recession,” may not have the tidy ending we’ve been expecting for years now. Yes, Automotive News Europe [sub] reports that death is one of the three official options for the Maybach brand… and it’s certainly the option I’d pick. But if Daimler didn’t want to hold onto the plutocratic appeal of its zombie brand, Maybach would have died with a little dignity some time ago. And remember, the decline of Maybach is not the result of a decline in the über-luxury market… Rolls-Royce is selling cars hand-over-fist.

Accordingly, Daimler is exploring two “death alternatives” for Maybach: One, is rebuilding the brand in partnership with Aston-Martin, the other is relegating Maybach to a range-topping trim level. Aston has reportedly built four concepts on the next-gen S-Class chassis, so a new lineup is a real possibility, but then turning Maybach into “the AMG of Luxury,” and offering high-end trim for the S, GL and CL models would be cheaper and possibly even more profitable. And of course there’s always the eternal option: death. Which strategy would you suggest to Daimler before spending your giant consultants fee on a Rolls-Royce Ghost?

 

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23 Comments on “Choose Your Maybach Adventure: Three Strategies On The Table...”


  • avatar
    M 1

    I suspect most people have always considered it a “fancier Benz” anyway. The things have even always looked like the next MB class when a chauffeured S-class Brabus twin-turbo V12 just doesn’t say “My real estate is more exclusive than your real estate,” with sufficient emphasis. Your brilliantly-phrased “AMG of luxury” concept is probably more in line with the brand-vision cultivated by Mercedes, and is probably how a lot of people wind up in a Maybach now.

    I see no real downside to that approach, and if it continues to flop, it will be easier to kill off quietly.

  • avatar
    Type57SC

    Try swapping the “Maybach” name with Jaguar for “Daimler” so you can sell cars with your corporate name on them rather than confusing anyone born after 1980

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I could never quite get my mind around a Maybach. The first time I saw one on “The Apprentice”, I thought the only reason they were given a cameo part on that TV show was because they were getting the buzz about that time 5 years ago, give-or-take.

    Historically, they were too expensive and complex for their own good in WWll in Tiger tanks, as they weren’t reliable enough in the strains of battle and broke down often.

    If Mayback is just an exercise in how expensive a Mercedes you can build that people will buy, well, that answers that question. Perhaps keep the line available and build them for heads of state.

  • avatar
    tom

    Ok, here’s my take:
    Making it the top trim level might be a cheap option, but I think it would be detrimental in the long term as it would damage the “Mercedes” Brand. So death would certainly be preferable.

    However, I’d give it another go as a rebuilt brand. If Aston manages to come up with a great design, then it reallycould work. I see four direction this could go, and maybe they correlate with the four concept cars:
    1) Aston could design a bulky car that is reminiscent of the Maybach cars of old, kinda like how BMW has approached Rolls Royce. That would probably be the safest approach.
    2) They could come up with a completely new, modern design, something like the Lagonda concept Aston showed in 2009. The Lagonda concept was of course terrible, so there is some risk involved. On the other hand, Aston certainly can design handsome cars as they prove with their regular lineup, so it could work just as well.
    3) They could do something in between, a modern design with classical inspiration, like VW approached Bentley. Again this could work out great, but it also runs the risk of ending up looking bland.
    4) They could try to come up with a good looking evolution of the current Maybach. That of course sounds utterly impossible. At best they’d put lipstick on a pig. The problem is of course that once a brand identity has been established it’s a risky step to completely change that identity, especially in the upper echelons of the industry. But then again, Maybach is at a point now where they basically can’t lose any more, so I certainly would go for something very different than the current Maybach.

  • avatar

    It doesn’t make sense to spend $300K on a Maybach when the S550 is 1/3rd the price, looks better and offers enough to allow you to ignore the Maybach’s recliners and “car office” amenities.

    Maybach didn’t have to die. They just needed to do what Rolls Royce did. Offer smaller, less expensive cars with sexy designs. Then you can suck the money out of the pockets of athletes, rappers and young executives.

  • avatar
    tallnikita

    i just spent a day drooling over RR Phantom’s interior. May-bleh? Neh.

  • avatar
    ExPatBrit

    The entire idea was lame in the first place. Mercedes just wanted to react to the RR/ Bentley purchases by BMW and VW.

    The Maybach name doesn’t suggest anything automotive to me, maybe WW1 airplane, airship or Zeppelin engines.

    If a US manufacturer (not necessarily the big 3) tried to resurrect Duesenberg, I assume the results would be the same.

    The name had been dead a long time.

  • avatar
    Buckshot

    Too build a bigger and more expensive car than the so called “best car in the world” Mercedes S-klasse is a tricky business.
    The enthusiast side of me is thinking that Maybach could be the retro luxury models branch of Mercedes, but that market is very small.

    I think they should use the Maybach label on the most expensive Mercedes models, similar to how Jaguar used Daimler.
    Different hood ornament and no options (everything standard).

  • avatar
    65corvair

    Mercedes needs to worry about Mercedes. Recapture the number one spot when it come to quality. They need to build cars that out compete Lexus and BMW. If I were rich, I would not buy a Mercedes, much less a Maybach. I don’t want to find out how good there service departments are.

  • avatar
    Zarba

    They should build the Exelero, then kill Maybach.

    The Exelero deserves to be built. Maybach deserves to die.

  • avatar
    sitting@home

    The bottom left of the photo above shows (presumably) an olde-worlde Maybach next to a current day Maybach. The old one has presence, style and elegance and completely overshadows the new one, which looks like it could be a Chinese knock-off of a Kia. That photo alone is enough evidence to show that Mercedes failed to recapture whatever spirit the Maybach brand once had, and just because a car costs a lot doesn’t mean it’s worth anything.

  • avatar
    izido

    The main problem with Maybach brand strategy was it’s poor and lame execution. (Poorly) re-skinning MB S-Class and pushing it to the upper market borders downright on arrogance and complete disrespect of it’s potential customers. As it was, the Maybach resurrection was more alike some cheap zombie flick. Not that killing this brand off would be a good thing…
    Instead, second option from the article would be pretty smart from marketing perspective, since so much money was sunk into the brand anyway, MB should just use Maybach as a name for their top-end trim, and that only on the S-Class. This way they can still distinguish “ultra luxury” from the more “ordinary” cars anyone can have. And they can still use their two-tone paint scheme, if they wish so. They only have to forget about competing with RR but I suspect that will be much harder to do. Executive ego and all that…

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      +1 – executive ego will kick in here. As ExPatBrit said that is why MG did this in the first place because VW and BMW bought well established UK luxury brands. BM<W has done well with the two UK brands they bought (MINI and RR).

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    Besides the current Maybach models which are dismal failures the other big problem the Maybach name has is it lacks the panache of RR & Bentley. Diamler probably due in large part to the cars themselves has never been able to position Maybach in the league of RR & Bentley.

    Everyone knows what a RR is and I suspect most are familiar with Bentley as well. Maybach? More like Maywhat?

    In fact, I remember reading a while back about IIRC Jenifer Lopez sending a Maybach back and requesting a RR in London. When you have that level of image problem with Maybach there is an enormous amount of ground to cover to position the brand.

    If Diamler is determined to try and get Maybach off the ground the affiliation with Aston Martin is probably the best bet. It’s definitely a case of if they killed the brand tomorrow who would care?

  • avatar
    gasser

    The name never conveyed the cachet that Mercedes hoped it would. Maybach or Mayberry is all the same here in USA. Also the car was never visually differentiated enough from the big S sedans to command the huge price premium.
    Mercedes can probably still sell Maybach as an option on the large S sedans using the over the top seating and rear seat amenities.
    For sure, the Rolls does NOT compete with Maybach, Aston Martin or Bentley on performance, so more horsepower and sharper handling won’t help move these barges off the show room floor.

  • avatar
    Tstag

    JLR kept the right to use the Daimler brand on cars. They only allowed Mercedes to call itself Daimler as a company. Mercedes can’t actually make any cars using that brand.

    TATA have said they may use the Daimler brand themselves.

  • avatar
    tom

    Unfortunately, my post from yesterday somehow got lost, so here we go again.

    The least desirable strategy would be to turn Maybach into a trim level. That would cheapen the regular Mercedes brand.
    A quick death would certainly better.

    However, I’d give the Maybach brand another go as the major problem I see are the terrible looks of the car. For that restart, I see four routes:
    1) Aston could try to come up with a good looking design based on the current car. Usually that would be the way to go, because once you establish a brand identity, you shouldn’t deviate from that too radically, especially in the premium market. However, in the case of Maybach that seems to be utterly impossible given the ugliness, plus the design was too close to Mercedes to begin with, it needs to be distinct.
    2) Daimler could go for a big, bulky design that is inspired by the Maybach cars of old.This is like the direction BMW has taken with Rolls Royce. That would be the safest way IMHO, as Oil Sheikhs and Hip-Hop millionaires totally love that style.
    3) Daimler could also go for a completely fresh and modern design. That would of course be risky. Aston has already had one try with the Lagonda concept of 2009 and it was a massive miss. Then again, Aston’s regular lineup is proof that they can design handsome cars.
    4) They could go for something in between modern and retro, like VW did with Bentley. Again it could work, but again it’s risky as it could easily end up being bland.

    Given that Aston has designed four prototypes, maybe they also went along those four basic routes…


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