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Daimler decides to shut down 'Maybach' brand, finally

We knew it coming before and finally, here it is. Daimler AG has announced that it is shutting down its super-luxury ‘Maybach’ brand after almost a decade of incurring losses with its two models, the 57 and 62, variants of which are priced upwards of $ 350,000. Daimler reintroduced the Maybach brand in the year 2002 with much fanfare and expectations to challenge BMW’s Rolls-Royce and Audi’s Bentley. But, the brand that had a rich legacy dating back to the 1930’s failed miserably and could not challenge the exclusivity and richness of either the Rolls-Royce or the Bentley.

In 2003, Maybach’s best year till date, sales peaked at 600 units before sliding to a mere 200 units last year. Pitch that against Rolls-Royce’s 2700 units and Bentley’s 5100 units sold in 2010 and you get the picture. A mild update recently with new chrome grille and more fuel-efficient 12 cylinder engine didn’t help the sagging sales nor did the addition of special editions and variants. After extensive internal discussions on what would be the best route to achieve the greatest possible success in luxury segment, Daimler concluded that sales prospects were better off at Mercedes-Benz.

Referring to the Maybach, Dieter Zetsche, CEO of Daimler AG has reportedly said “It would not make sense to develop a successor model”. Daimler spokesperson Mark Binder, while confirming the statement added that “The coming S-Class is such a superior vehicle, it can replace the Maybach”. Daimler plans to continue selling the car until 2013 when the all-new S-Class will be launched in the market. The company plans to double the number of variants of the new S-Class to counter the loss of Maybach and also to increase the sales and step up the challenge to BMW and Audi.

The last few years have not been great for Mercedes-Benz with the company losing its leadership in the luxury segment to BMW in 2005. This year, Mercedes-Benz has slipped further back with Audi taking the second spot away from the three-pointed star. An alarming statistic tells that both BMW and Audi have grown at more than five times the pace of Mercedes-Benz in the last decade. The flagship S-Class has been the only saving grace for Mercedes-Benz as it consistently beats BMW’s 7-Series and Audi’s A8, not only in comparison tests but also in sales charts.

As an automotive enthusiast, it pains to hear the loss of yet another brand. But, with a global sales figure of just a couple of hundred units, Daimler would be bleeding money to keep the brand running. With all these developments and reports, the urge to get a sneak peak of the all-new Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the next iteration of what is widely considered as ‘the best car in the world’ excluding the super-luxury marques, just got more intense. Please do not make us wait for long, Mercedes-Benz!

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