By on January 19, 2011

It’s been a short, strange trip for Maybach, as Daimler’s über-luxe branding effort went from toast of the nouveau riche to played-out self-caricature in a few short years. Needless to say, TTAC has been awaiting the long-overdue death of that brand for some time now, only to be stymied by a “final” facelift and a Xenatec-developed Coupe. Now, with Aston Martin reportedly working on the new look of the brand that “nobody at Daimler wants to let die,” Maybach’s masters are finally admitting to the fact that TTAC pointed out back in 2007: The Super S-Class was “born old hat.” Autocar reports:

Originally created to be profitable at 800 cars per year, Maybach has regularly struggled to sell half that annually since the launch of the 57 and 62 in 2002. Insiders now admit the decision to base the Maybach on the platform of a two-generations-old S-class, the W140, was a mistake.

Doing so prevented Mercedes from updating the upmarket limousine’s standard features with new navigation, communication and entertainment systems, as well as new safety features owing to an incompatible electronics platform dating back to 1990.

D’oh! But don’t worry… this won’t happen again. Honest.

According to the British buff book, the new Maybach lineup of long- and Venti-wheelbased luxury sedans will debut in 2014

based on a modified version of the next-generation S-class’s contemporary rear-wheel drive underpinnings and electronics platform.

That S-Class will launch in 2013, which means it will be only one year old when the Maybach versions debut. That, along with huge strides in electronics systems, should make the next generation of Maybachs more enduring than the previous generation… but bringing the brand back is still far from a no-brainer. After all, it’s not as if there’s a huge amount of equity left in the brand built on a platform that was replaced 11 years ago. Moreover, Aston’s designers will have to do a far better job differentiating the ‘bach from its S-Class donor than the first generation’s designers did. And on that front, Autocar’s report that

the new Maybach is set to boast a “traditional three-box design”, in line with buyer tastes

is hardly encouraging. Wasn’t the first generation “conservative” enough? Who wants to bet that, between the 2014 launch of the new Maybachs and the 2016 launch of the next Rolls-Royce Phantom, the Goodwood Giant won’t continue to crush its German-branded rival?

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26 Comments on “Daimler Doubling Down On Maybach...”

  • avatar

    Daimler did plenty of bone-headed things during the Schrempp-idiot-era, from the bottom of the portfolio straight to the top… to wit:  My 2004 Smart ForTwo has a factory-integrated Harmon-Kardon-made Daimler GPS system … now it is fair to expect that anyone with the Zoot for such a then super expensive system might have been an early adopter in other ways …
    But did they spec:
    – Integrated Bluetooth? No. This was available as a kluge add-on. 
    – Integrated MP3 interface? No. This was only available on the el-cheapo Grundig non-GPS radios.    
    – Integrated interface for remote CD shuffle-player?  Well, kind of, but then only the super rare and expensive version with optical-interface, but then did not offer the player.  While the el-cheapo Grundig head-units all had available CD-units.

    Daimler.  Upside-down logic.  Go figure.

    Best thing about the launch of the updated Maybach? Use of an Erickson Sky Crane. Only thing that could have topped this would have been use of a rigid dirigible.

    • 0 avatar
      Felis Concolor

      Sad for them: when I first saw those photographs of the delivery stunt, I was far more interested in seeing the venerable Skycrane still hard at work than their delivery case or its contents. And it’s amusing to realize the average new Ford offers superior passenger entertainment and information/networking options than that gussied up S-class.

      Agreed on the airship angle; I’d have been really impressed had they made the delivery using Zeppelin NT – but I’d still not be looking at the car.

  • avatar

    How do you know the new Phantom is 2016?

  • avatar

    daimler just had too much money to burn.
    AM re-juggle the equation would make a difference?
    is Maybach going AWD?

  • avatar

    Nice as the current S is, I’m not sure even it is right for Maybach. The world’s truly rich increasingly find themselves amongst ever growing numbers of the not so rich, who to an increasing extent reject the notion that “we’re all in this together.” A platform specifically designed to ease armoring would strike me as a better starting point, unless that consideration is already given to the S.
    The only Genuine Russian Billionaire I “know”, would much prefer to get his hands on one of the armored S’ reserved for heads of state and other well connecteds, over any Maybach; yet this group seem to be the  excuse for keeping Maybach around in the first place.
    Ever the Panther apologist, here’s a way for Lincoln to vault past the pretenders and right to the top: Modified Superduty frame, enough ground clearance, 4×4 acumen and tires to get over curbs and go “around” a rural road block, while resisting .223 and below. While staying quiet and comfortable, having built in, redundant, cellular booster antennae and satellite communications, large, redundant fuel tanks and attachment points for various James Bond “toys”. That’s how Billionaires spec their yachts these days, and they don’t seem to mind paying well above Maybach money for those.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      GM already makes a Caddy with those features. It’s basically a stretched Escalade with a trunk.

      Too bad you need would to be the President of the United States to get one…

    • 0 avatar

      SVX pearlie beat me to it–the current Presidential Cadillac is a one-off on a TopKick/C6500 truck chassis, which is more or less what you (sensibly) envisioned for Lincoln. (OK, so the ground clearance isn’t there, but I don’t think that tends to come into play with the Secret Service around.)

    • 0 avatar

      I think the ground clearance might be there. The Beast looks like it can vault curbs. Conceivably, GM can’t sell them to the public because it would constitute a security risk to allow people to know too much about the Presidential Limo’s construction. This could be a good opportunity for Ford to fill a niche that GM’s highest profile customer is helping to create.

  • avatar

    Daimler’s problem** is that they cannot, ever, admit they were wrong.  Admitting you were wrong about one thing would mean that you could be wrong about anything, and since much of management has made a career of sycophantic groupthink, they’re all in ownership of this particular piece of stupid.
    Oh, and “admission” would also include making the necessary strategic changes to make Mayback work.  What, you don’t think that just because it was Schrempp’s baby that Zetsche doesn’t also bear some fault?
    Daimler is in serious need of new and—this is important—outside leadership.
    ** and it’s a problem that’s shared by many, many other companies

    • 0 avatar

      Not trying to be inflamatory, but as I read your comments, my mind linked them with the boys in the Vatican (btw, a beautiful complex, well worth the visit.) 

      Regrdless of the church, GM, Daimler, or Captain Smith, mentalities and cultures of infallibility (contrary to empircal events) seem to result from being too long in a dominant and relatively unchallenged position (up until the belief in the mythos infallibility leads to a decline in the organization).

    • 0 avatar

      @Robert.Walter: Your comparison of “Mistakes? What mistakes?” corporate culture to the doctrine of papal infallibility is an excellent one—And not inflammatory at all, not according to most Catholics I know.  Even the Church itself has scaled the policy back, albeit in a backhanded way.

  • avatar

    Of course the speed of obsolescence of computers/electronics is much faster than the auto-world is accustomed.  Anyone for using a 1990 computer?  A 2000 computer?  No, because significant developments occur in short intervals – from memory bus speeds to display technologies/resolution.  Some think autos with “state-of-the-art” electronics – especially GPS and communications – will suffer more rapid depreciation.  And when you are attempting to sell into the ultra-luxury world, the target is moving very rapidly – and the market is not as tolerant of last-generation equipment.
    Advice to Diamler: budget extra amounts of money for updating the electronics. At Maybach prices, extra money should be available.

    • 0 avatar

      Funny thing is, once the technological platform is developed and industrialized, is it really so expensive to begin doing application work using variations on the theme (in this case, longer cables and different packaging and mounting schemes for the expensive guts?  Which, compared with trying to bring tech down-market into ever smaller vehicles with sensitive price points, should have been easy to do with Maybach with its bigger package to begin with.)

    • 0 avatar

      If I was running a car company, I’d be putting money into making sure that the vehicles’ electronics were upgradeable. On one hand offering things like Sync and MyFord Touch are good selling points, on the other, offering a tabula rasa that can be constantly brought to being the state of the art (or close) might be a selling point too.
      By making the systems upgradeable, they would avoid that rapid depreciation.
      While there are safety and liability concerns, why shouldn’t you be able to upgrade the apps on your car just like  you do on  your phone?
      I think the first automaker that embraces 3rd party application development for the electronics and infotainment systems in cars will have a competitive advantage. It fits right into the fact that people like to personalize things and would just be another form of car customization.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t think it’s that expensive to update the electronics – especially the entertainment/communications bits.  But the “bean counters” enter the picture and insist that the standard amortization time is X years.  These folks don’t want to invest in any updates for that time.  And “X” is a smaller number than the auto bean-counters are used to enforcing. The costs of developing, building, supporting the Maybach are considerable but the prices should support it.  The mindset of the management has to allow more frequent updates.

  • avatar

    Doing so prevented Mercedes from updating the upmarket limousine’s standard features with new navigation, communication and entertainment systems, as well as new safety features owing to an incompatible electronics platform dating back to 1990.
    What does the W140 platform, basically a set of geometric hard points on which they hang major components, have anything to do with electronics? Why would using the basic W140 structure as a start force them to use a 1990 era wiring loom and computers. The Autocar report makes no sense to me unless M-B really is that arrogant.

    • 0 avatar

      Thank you. It didn’t make sense to me either. Hell, add some belts and a modern alternator with some wires and you could put a Pioneer deck into a Model T.

    • 0 avatar

      “What does the W140 platform, basically a set of geometric hard points on which they hang major components, have anything to do with electronics?”
      Because Mercedes reused as many systems as they could, not just the geometric hard points.

      • 0 avatar

        Have you ever owned a W140 or seen a Maybach? because other than the Maybach being built on a W140 chassis, theres nothing inside or outside the car that has legacy W140 parts on it.

        All the electronics (air suspension, active body control, and so forth), the engine (twin turbo v12) and 5 speed transmission are all derived from the W220.

        The insiders are a joke. They have no clue as to what theyre talking about.

  • avatar

    Wasn’t the W140 one of the last “solid” Mercedes?  I would think it would b a good platform to build off of.
    (First post, long time reader of TTAC!)

  • avatar

    Isn’t the new S-class based on the new 300 platform? That would make the Maybach an Imperial LOL!

    • 0 avatar

      Newer platforms have much more rigidity I understand, which should improve the drive a fair bit. I bet the Maybach’s ride was worse than the S550 or LS460. Electronic issues are one thing, but a car that does not feel substantial is a whole other issue.

    • 0 avatar

      I registered just to reply to this… In now way is the new or current S class based on the Chrysler 300 platform. The original 300C is based on a W210 platform and the crossfire shared many components from the original SLK. Other than that, the only shared platform used between the two that wasn’t originally mercedes is the Chrysler Pacifica/Mercedes R Class (and it shows).

    • 0 avatar

      @dubvbenz, How do you know that? It’s common knowledge that DCX co-developed platforms for both the Grand Cherokee/ML models and that they were developing a SHARED platform for the next E- class size. At Chrysler this resulted in the NEW ‘LY’ platform, which underpins the 300, and was slated to be the basis of a new Mercedes model. So, unless you’re a Mercedes engineer and can prove me wrong, I’m closer to the truth than you are. I’m sorry you Daimler fan boys have a hard time with that, but the truth is Mercedes engineers are not the only ones who can develop outstanding vehicles. P.S. the previous gen ‘LX’ also was NOT a W-210, but based some of its component design on that model. Please check your facts before you get all huffy here.

  • avatar

    “Insiders now admit the decision to base the Maybach on the platform of a two-generations-old S-class, the W140, was a mistake.

    Doing so prevented Mercedes from updating the upmarket limousine’s standard features with new navigation, communication and entertainment systems, as well as new safety features owing to an incompatible electronics platform dating back to 1990.”

    That doesnt make sense. The Maybach used the W140 chassis, but its components are derived from the W220 (which debut in 1998)

    The so-called insiders dont know **** about the car. Have they seen the interior of a Maybach? Theres nothing 1990’s about it.

    The reason Maybach failed is because of its pricing. While Maybach certainly had brand presence, a Rolls Royce was considerably cheaper and is also an established marque so most cash strapped individuals just opted for this.

    I would love to find out who these so called “insiders” are. Seems more like a bunch of idiots jumping to their own conclusions.

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