VITZNAU, Switzerland - The S-class will not be upstaged by the launch of the super-luxury Maybach sedan, according to executives at Daimler-Benz AG.
Maybach, due to arrive in 2003, is likely to be a conventional car with a lavish interior. The S-class will continue to be a showcase for advanced technology.
Daimler-Benz officials revealed some details about the Maybach at the press introduction of the new S-class.
'We see the Maybach as something that will offer the ultimate level of luxury,' said Juergen Hubbert, head of Daimler-Benz's passenger car division. 'It will have more comfort, more space and the best entertainment and communications technology. But the S-class will stay our flagship.'
'Customer bespoke' is in the market plan for Maybach. This is a system under which exterior colors, interior colors and materials, and electronic equipment can be custom-ordered. Maybach buyers may also be offered different versions of body hardware, such as grilles, door handles and trim.
Designo, the current in-house stylist, will not play a role. The modifications will be carried out under Mercedes' own label.
Daimler-Benz is currently deciding on the Maybach's final form and specifications. Hermann Gaus, director of car development, said it will share the basic dimensions of the show model. The Maybach was first seen as a high-luxury concept car at the Tokyo motor show in October 1997.
The Maybach will be powered by a large engine, probably a V-12. It will cost around $225,000 - about three times the price of the current S-class.
The use of magnesium body panels has been examined, but the technology probably will not be ready in time. That means the Maybach will probably be made from a mix of steel, aluminum and composites.
Daimler-Benz plans to build at least 1,500 Maybachs per year.