Mercedes Kills Maybach: Child Abuse

Mercedes-Benz has recently announced that it will shut down the Maybach luxury brand, with the move set to become effective in 2013. The Maybach models will be kept in production until then, when they will be replaced with the Pullman version of the next S-Class.

Maybach has bee registering microscopic sales since it was resurrected by Mercedes parent company Daimler in the early 2000s, with a recent marketing study performed for Mercedes revealing that the company it would be more efficient to move S-Class upmarket with the aforementioned development rather than pumping more cash than it already had into the Maybach brand.

In fact, the luxury brand has relatively few supporters, as it's cars never managed to fully impress, which means that its disappearance will probably not concern anyone more than the usual economical eyebrows the killing of a public name raises. Therefore, Mercedes has all the arguments for sending Maybach between the covers of history books.

Wrong. This is what Mercedes wants us to believe, but, behind those politically correct black suits, lies an attitude that can cause nothing but destruction. A chain of destruction.

Our society has zero tolerance for child abuse, but the same can't be said about the times when this is used in the automotive world. You're probably thinking that I'm using a notion that's far to severe to be translated into a world of artificial creations, but it perfectly describes what Mercedes-Benz has been doing to Maybach over the years.

You see, it might seem that, regardless of which part of our brains we use, Maybach deserves to die: it's not profitable and it can't even truly stir passion, so why should it be kept alive. However, it is all Mercedes' fault that the luxury brand was brought into this position. Let's leave conventional cars aside for a few paragraphs and climb aboard a time machine (no-name).

It's 1907 and Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft (DMG) technical director Wilhem Maybach leaves the company to start his own automotive business. By 1912, he and his son Karl Myabach, were building petrol and diesel engines for Zeppelins, rail cars and then World War I airships.

In 1921, the first car to wear a Maybach badge (in fact, this was a double M logo) was launched. The company gathered reputation points at a staggering pace and started building some of the most luxurious automotive creations the world had ever seen.

Production of utilitarian engines was still there, but the focus was now on giving the world's most influential figures something to consider. Maybach did more than just that, producing some vehicles that were as much a symbol of engineering genius, as they were synonyms for opulence. That there, is a heritage, a core, that could serve as business essence in the modern world.

Thus, Maybach was left with this strong essence in the bottle of its first death when the company was shut down after World War II - during the warm it produced engines for Tiger and Panther tanks, but after wards, it never managed to restart car production.

In 1960, Mercedes saw this huge potential and acquired the Maybach name. However, the company decided that it was best to keep this treasure hidden until the conditions would be perfect for it to be relaunched.

So far, so good: Merc had a connection to the "original" Maybach and then the company decided to give the brand a new chance. However, from here on, Mercedes started abusing his child more and more.

First of all, Mercedes didn't want Maybach in the first place. The double M brand was introduced as a "plan B" after Merc failed to acquire both Rolls-Royce and Bentley back in 2002. That was a crucial point, where Bentley and Rolls-Royce started new lives, with both the VW Group and BMW, respectively, having their own ways of making their adopted children grow stronger everyday.

Instead, Mercedes decided to revive Maybach by building two models that could only be distinguished by their length. But this was not the problem. Unfortunately, both the 57 and the 62, were underpinned by the outdated platform of the third-generation Mercedes S-Class, a vehicle that had been the pinnacle of technology in the car world... back in 1991. And we may still have not reached the worse thing about the new Maybachs.

Merc didn't even bother to brings the styling too far from that of the S-Class, so, basically, if you bough one of these, everybody could see that you paid at least three times the price of an S-Class for a supped-up version of it.

As the years passed, Rolls-Royce and Bentley grew strong and smart, as their parents were reasonable enough to invest in their development and give them unique identities that would work in this stratospheric segment of the market, where every flaw of a car can become its doom. While VW and BMW built a solid future for... themselves, Mercedes kept using the same cheap attitude. Are you curious abut the efforts made to make things right? Merc appointed brand ambassadors to revive sales...

However, in 2005, the parent did what it was supposed to be doing all along, introducing the Maybach Exelero Coupe, a car with styling cues that somehow managed to explain everything about Zeppelins and both World Wars that Maybach had in its blood even to a two-year old. However, this didn't even entered limited production.

Maybach was still convincing a very small number of customers every year (157 in 2010), that it deserves attention through the fact that not only could you have a feature for everything, but you could customize every little piece of the car. However, it was obvious for everybody that the company was heading for disaster.

There have been recent talks between Daimler and Aston Martin and we should've seen the British carmaker bring the lost aura of Maybach back (in exchange for Mercedes engine technology), but the Germans claimed that the British asked for too much money.

Now, Mercedes will put Maybach back on the shelf, after only keeping it at survival level in all the years of its new life. And who will complain? Nobody. The Maybach brand was held in a grave (not Merc's fault here) and stored in Mercedes chest that you'd have to be way over 80 (at least) to remember the good days of the company. The rest of the world, which has only witnessed the new Maybach, will never bother to notice that the weird-looking S-Class is gone. Collectors? Their number is too limited...

So this is how Mercedes is throwing away Maybach's legacy of serving the most exclusive customers, from royalty to the front line of the German army, on land, water and in the air.

Sure, there will always be parent-child relationships that also bring disadvantages for the latter. Let's take BMW, for example. It is doing a great job with Rolls, but when it comes to MINI, the Germans won't let you have all the goodies you could in a model belonging to the British carmaker just because it's not a BMW - this is the reason why you can't have electric seats in a MINI, even though the marketing department will tell you that it's because such an option wouldn't be in the minimalist spirit of the brand. However, BMW is keeping a good balance and allows MINI to shine, a path that should be a lesson for Mercedes.

It is now time to talk about investors and spirit. There will always be entities that have the financial power to buy anything in the world, but the number of names worthy of respect thanks to their heritage is limited and this is why these brands should be protected by special laws, just like historical monuments. Things would have been less severe, if we had been talking about the smart brand instead of Maybach, for example.

With this whole story, Mercedes has not only damaged Maybach's name, but also it's own 125 years of history: what credibility can Maybach have if it would ever make a new comeback? How competent can a company like Mercedes be if it failed in such an organized way?
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About the author: Andrei Tutu
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In his quest to bring you the most impressive automotive creations, Andrei relies on learning as a superpower. There's quite a bit of room in the garage that is this aficionado's heart, so factory-condition classics and widebody contraptions with turbos poking through the hood can peacefully coexist.
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