Mercedes-Benz is preparing to resurrect its upmarket Maybach brand with a new limousine based on a modified version of the next-generation S-class’s contemporary rear-wheel drive underpinnings and electronics platform.
Conceived to replace today’s 57 and 62, the hi-tech saloon is once again planned to be produced in two distinct lengths, with sales likely to begin in 2014, according to a high-ranking Mercedes source, who also revealed that the new Maybach is set to boast a “traditional three-box design”, in line with buyer tastes.
Speculation has been rife about a possible axing of the underperforming Maybach brand due to poor sales in a worsening economy. Daimler chief Dieter Zetsche said at the Detroit show that "everything is on the table" in regards to Maybach's future, including the possibility of closing it.
However, a rebound in fortunes across the world’s financial markets and renewed interest from original customers looking for a repeat purchase has prompted Mercedes to commit to a second-generation limousine that Autocar has been told will “act as a technological showcase” for the rest of the German car maker’s line-up.
Originally created to be profitable at 800 cars per year, Maybach has regularly struggled to sell half that annually since the launch of the 57 and 62 in 2002. Insiders now admit the decision to base the Maybach on the platform of a two-generations-old S-class, the W140, was a mistake.
Doing so prevented Mercedes from updating the upmarket limousine’s standard features with new navigation, communication and entertainment systems, as well as new safety features owing to an incompatible electronics platform dating back to 1990.
By basing the new model on up-to-date underpinnings from the W222, due out in 2013, Mercedes is looking to ensure the Maybach lives up to its name by offering all the very latest in technology.
The line-up should include the German car maker’s new Magic Ride system, which it hopes to use to provide the new Maybach with the sort of ride quality to challenge the Rolls-Royce Phantom, itself due to be replaced in 2016.