Here's how the world's oldest carmaker plans to attract the ultra-rich.
The first attempt at reviving the Maybach brand wasn't the success Mercedes-Benz hoped for. The 57 and 62 targeted the Rolls-Royce Phantom and, while the duo found favor with hip-hop artists and Russian oligarchs, they ultimately fell flat on their chrome-adorned faces.
In short, it couldn't match the Phantom in terms of success, something Mercedes would later admit to - it reportedly lost $439,000 on each vehicle. Since then, it's returned as a sub-brand responsible for the new Mercedes-Maybach S-Class, a plusher derivative of the regular model.
This direction has brought great success for the automaker with strong demand and even stronger sales. But it seems Mercedes-Benz is readying the division for yet another change, reports Bloomberg. "There has been a restart ... this is the rejuvenation of the Maybach brand," said Mercedes CEO Ola Kallenius.
Traditionally, the company's range-topping models have taken a more subtle approach to design. Where a W140 or W221 S-Class whispered good taste, Maybachs of the future will radiate status and be unashamedly flamboyant in their aesthetic. This is evidenced by the Maybach Haute Voiture concept.
The interior is a massive departure and features materials one would normally not associate with tasteful Maybach models. Fur, rose gold accents and high fashion-inspired patterns sit where traditional timber and leather would once be found.
"Some people may say it's terrible, but that is exactly what we should do as a luxury brand - it's a shock ... disruptiveness and contradiction are a source of creativity," said exterior design director, Steffen Kohl. This seemingly conspicuous approach to design will garner even more interest in Maybach's biggest market, China.
Monied buyers in The Red Dragon are more ostentatious in their tastes and have no qualms about flaunting their wealth. As such, they prefer vehicles that reflect their status. Pandering to the world's biggest market is a sure-fire way of reaching sales success. Kallenius knows this, noting China is "the biggest Maybach market in the world."
Automotive designer Frank Stephenson echoed the sentiments of Mercedes' CEO. "Maybach wants to express wealth through footprint, how big the object is ... the Chinese market is a younger market, which is not bashful about showing its wealth, and the Maybach certainly does that."
Newly-appointed Maybach head Daniel Lescow said that despite the lack of marketing for Maybach, the brand is doing remarkably well, and, while he chose not to comment on the specifics, described Maybach vehicles as being in high demand.
So far, we know the Maybach lineup will grow to accommodate an ultra-luxury variant of the SL. We've also seen the polarizing Project Maybach, an off-roading coupe that's big on opulence and sustainability. From a design standpoint, there's no denying they're striking (albeit opinion-splitting) - but this is what Maybach wants.
Wealthy individuals who want to stand out from the crowd will certainly line up to get their hands on these cars. "You have got to keep it special. Lower volume, discerning customers. [Now] and then, we will sprinkle the Maybach manufacturer brand on top of a few [Mercedes] products," added Kallenius.
The company recently announced it will rejig the entire lineup and compartmentalize its offerings. The Top-End Luxury offerings will comprise Maybach models and an even more exclusive Mythos range. We're looking at the beginnings of a new Mercedes-Benz. No longer can the brand be described as staid; on its new journey upmarket, we can expect even more outlandish and exciting cars to come.