Wilhelm Maybach would turn over in his grave if he knew that killing the super-luxury brand that carries his name is one of the options Daimler is considering.
Mr. Maybach (1846 to 1929) was an engine designer who served as technical director at Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft. He teamed with Gottlieb Daimler on a number of crucial advancements.
Maybach’s name is strongly linked to Daimler.
Can killing the brand really be an option? Would the company risk damaging the image of the Mercedes Benz Cars group, which includes Maybach, Mercedes-Benz and Smart?
It seems like a particularly bad idea to do this during a year when the company is celebrating its 125th anniversary and is predicting record profits.
Potential to tap
I would not write off the billion-plus euros already invested in Maybach since its creation in 2002.
Why? Because there is potential to exploit in the super-luxury segment. Just look at Rolls-Royce. By expanding its lineup, the BMW subsidiary boosted sales 171 percent last year to a record 2,711 cars.
Meanwhile, Maybach only sold 157 units of its lone model.
Where did Daimler go wrong with Maybach?
First of all, it should not have based the first-generation Maybach on an old-generation Mercedes S class.
Secondly, a decision about Maybach’s future should have been made five years ago.
Thirdly, it should have matched Rolls-Royce and launched a model like the smaller, less expensive Ghost (also known as the Baby Rolls). Skeptics in Stuttgart decided not to invest in a small Maybach because they feared it would steal sales from the long-wheelbase version of the S class. That is a legitimate concern given that the Maybach is too similar to the longer S class.
By the way, it should be pointed out that Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche should not be blamed for the Maybach mess. He inherited this problem from his predecessor, Juergen Schrempp, in 2006, and he had bigger problems to tackle first.