Maybach: No Substitute For A Rolls Royce

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

To paraphrase Kurt Vonnegut, the Maybach experiment was a conspiracy between Daimler and the rich to make the rest of us feel smart. The ultimate zombie brand, exhumed during the go-go nineties as a way for Daimler to charge even more for a stretched S Class, has now fallen on troubled times. And now, according to the ever-trusty, none other than Mariah Carey has put the Maybach seemingly irrevocably in its place:

Initially a top class Mercedes complete with a chauffeur was sent to take Mariah to the studios, but this wasn’t deemed exclusive enough for a star of Mariah’s stature and was then replaced by a £250,000 Mercedes Maybach. However the Maybach limo was also rejected and then, third-time-lucky, a Rolls Royce Phantom was dispatched.

Of course the Phantom had to be “decorated with vinyl graphics of butterflies in a nod to the singer’s 1997 album entitled butterfly” before the divine Miss Carey would grace it with her presence, but that’s a topic for a more mental health-oriented forum. Ego-driven eccentricity aside, Mariah’s dismissal of the Maybach confirms Daimler’s failure to launch a Rolls-worthy competitor, an effort on which no expense was spared. It also raises the troubling question: will any brand be able to match Rolls at the pinnacle of the luxury sedan game? Maybach didn’t end up where it is because its vehicles are less competent, expensive or ostentatious than a Rolls. It even held some genuine cache amongst members of the music business for about two years. And then it just went flat. Mariah might not be able to explain why the Phantom stands alone at the top of the global luxury heap better than I can, but we both know it’s the truth. Anyone looking at going after the Phantom’s segment (hello, Bugatti Galibier and Tata’s branding graverobbers) should think long and hard about the reasons why.

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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  • Kristjan Ambroz Kristjan Ambroz on Nov 19, 2009

    I agree that the primary problem is not the brand name but the product. Although I have to admit I found one Maybach particularly humorous - a couple of months ago I saw a firetruck red one with massive corporate logos of the stationery company Ryman in front of the Ivy in London. It was truly hilarious. Apart from the Grey Goose vodka Phantoms (and those were a lot harder to spot, well, the only real giveaway was their french racing blue colour scheme) are the only from the other side of the divide :)

  • Thinx Thinx on Jan 04, 2010

    I still remember how exciting the news of a Maybach revival by Mercedes was... until I saw what they actually did with it. An utterly cynical exercise which managed to be both bland AND garish at the same time. I had high hopes that a company like Daimler-BENZ, goddammit -- BENZ -- would present us with a technological tour-de-force to reckon with, instead of the marketing tour-de-farce that it turned out to be.

  • NotMyCircusNotMyMonkeys i was only here for torchinsky
  • Tane94 Workhorse probably will be added to the heap of failed EV companies.
  • Freddie Instead of taking the day off, how about an article on the connection between Black Americans and the auto industry and car culture? Having done zero research, two topics pop into my head: Chrysler designer/executive Ralph Gilles, and the famous (infamous?) "Green Book".
  • Tane94 Either Elio Motors or Aptera Motors.
  • Billccm I think we will see history repeat itself. The French acquired AMC in the 1980s, discovered they couldn't make easy money, sold AMC off to Chrysler. Jeep is all that remained. This time the French acquired FCA, and they are discovering no easy profits. Assume an Asian manufacturer will acquire what remains of Chrysler, but this time Jeep and RAM are the only survivors.