In the midst of a model restructuring, Mercedes-Benz has announced that it is giving Maybach the Lazarus treatment. For those who are not in the know, Maybach was the super-luxury arm of Mercedes until the company’s higher-ups put the new S-Class into production. Think of it as a brand that was in the same playing field as Rolls Royce, and you’ve got the right idea.
So, what has prompted Mercedes to bring it back? Well, it’s part of an overall-revamping to the vehicle-naming structure that the company currently employs. The new Maybach won’t be its own independent brand, but rather will be a part of the new S-Class line. Dubbed the Mercedes-Maybach S600, the new car will be outfitted with a blend of wood, leather and premium metals, and have a 6.0-liter V12 engine under the hood, capable of 530 horsepower. There will also be an S500 V8 Maybach, and an S400 4MATIC, according to Auto Express.
Due to hit the market in the spring of 2015, it will likely have a price tag in excess of $160,000. Speaking with the gentlemen from Top Gear, chief of Mercedes sales and marketing Ola Kallenius said that speculating further about the future of the Maybach nameplate should be curbed for now, as the new cars should inspire more than enough conversation for the current time. “Maybach is at home in the top-most segment, and it belongs there,” he said. “There is no need to speculate whether other vehicles will follow.”
Kallenius also added, after being pressed a bit, that the announced models shouldn’t necessarily dictate what the company may plan in coming years. “This is the Maybach: a unique body shape, a feeling of space and ride quality that is unparalleled. That is our plan for now,” he told Top Gear. “I don’t want to be dogmatic about rules, and we haven’t thought through every permutation we could do for the next ten years. Our focus is on this car.”
Again, Maybach is seeing as a part of the restructuring of Mercedes’ naming arrangements. Part of that new strategy includes new names for the company’s SUVs and off-road vehicles. The chart above, supplied by Mercedes, lays the new naming scheme out visually. But prodding further into Mercedes’ logic, why are they deciding to push forward with the new agenda? The company has undoubtedly made some big strides over the past decade or so, introducing new models and taking radical different directions with some vehicles, but perhaps the company’s leadership simply isn’t seeing enough return for its investment?
That might be part of the issue. Earlier this year, Forbes ran an article detailing how Mercedes has recently been engaged in a footrace with a couple of key competitors, BMW and Lexus on the luxury auto market. The United States is the largest market for Mercedes, which sells more than 20% of its vehicles on American soil. That accounted for more than 312,000 units sold in 2013. The concern, however, comes from the rapid growth of Mercedes’ rivals, BMW in particular. With a boost from the light truck segment, BMW saw sales jump 25.5% and overtook Mercedes for the first five months out of the year.
So, how does the Maybach add into the overall market strategy? Apparently the Mercedes brass has been paying attention to the ultra-high end luxury segment, because Rolls Royce has been experiencing record sales as of late. It would be a mistake to miss out on that kind of action. By reintroducing the Maybach name into the game, Mercedes is essentially putting its dukes up, and going head to head with Rolls Royce, Bentley and others. Rolls Royce has even planned to expand based on its recent success, which Mercedes likely hopes to cut in on.
“This result is based on a balanced global sales picture, with continued success in emerging markets paving the way for future sustainable growth,” Rolls Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös told Forbes at the time.
By marching the Maybach back into the lineup, Mercedes is putting itself into a position to capture some of that sustainable growth for themselves.
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