Daimler to Axe Maybach Limousines

Posted on November 29, 2011

From Financial Times

Daimler plans to end the struggling Maybach line of luxury limousine after years of disappointing sales since the German carmaker relaunched the brand almost a decade ago.

Daimler will cover the luxury segment in the future with an expanded range of models made by its flagship Mercedes-Benz marque, said Dieter Zetsche, chief executive.

The decision ends long-running speculation in the industry that the German carmaker would bin the Maybach brand, which has failed to match the sales of its closest competitors, Volkswagen’s Bentley and BMW-owned Rolls-Royce.

“We have had full discussions within the company about which path in the luxury segment was the most promising,” Dieter Zetsche told Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in an article published on its website on Friday. “And we came to the clear conclusion that the sales chances for the Mercedes brand were better than Maybach’s.”

Zetsche said that it would “not make sense” to design a successor model for the current Maybach. Mercedes-Benz would use a planned renewal of its top-end S-Class range to launch an “attack on the upper range,” Zetsche told the newspaper. He suggested S-Class sales could double to 80,000 annually.

Maybachs sell for more than €300,000, and top-end limousines and sports cars in its class are selling well, especially in China and the Middle East.

However, Daimler sold only about 200 Maybachs worldwide last year, roughly the same number as in 2009, and total sales are only about 3,000 since the brand — established in the 1920s — was revived in 2002.

By contrast Rolls-Royce sold 2,711 cars in 2010, while Bentley sold just over 5,000 cars.

Daimler had been studying its options for Maybach for some time. Last year, the company held inconclusive talks with Aston Martin on a possible partnership that would have seen the UK sports car maker produce the marque’s next generation of models.

Zetsche suggested sales of the Maybach would end in 2013 when the S-Class range will be widened from three to six models. The S-Class, like the Maybach, is produced at Daimler’s Sindelfingen plant near Stuttgart.

Separately, Daimler said on Friday it would step up investment at the nearby Untertürkheim power train plant, which produces axles, transmissions and engines for more than 1.5m vehicles annually. The plant will receive investment of almost €1bn next year after €670m in 2011, Daimler said.

Source: Financial Times

Forbes analysis of Maybach demise and state of premium luxury vehicle market.

LCT article on California operator trying out Maybach.

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