Mercedes-Benz's U.S. plant is committed to delivering the most expensive mass-production passenger vehicle made in America on time.
The plant in Vance, Alabama, started making the Maybach GLS SUV in September. It also builds builds the Mercedes GLS, GLE and GLE Coupe, and is tooling up to launch electric vehicle production.
Despite the plant being shut down temporarily in the spring along with the rest of the auto industry because of the coronavirus pandemic, a Daimler spokeswoman said the new ultraluxury SUV is on schedule for retail distribution.
The SUV could deliver fatter profit margins. Ultraluxury SUVs, which often share platforms with much less expensive vehicles, are cash cows for automakers. The global market for ultraluxury SUVs should grow from around 7,500 in 2018 to more than 20,000 by 2023, according to AutoForecast Solutions. About 75 percent of these vehicles will be sold in the U.S. and China.
Ed Kim, AutoPacific principal analyst, said that in image and functionality, luxury SUVs speak to the tastes of luxury customers far more than luxury sedans do.
"They have money to spend, and they want the most prestige they can get for their money," he said. "These days, luxury SUVs provide just that."
The Maybach SUV, based on the redesigned third-generation GLS platform, is powered by a specially developed 550-hp V-8 engine.
The engine is combined with a 48-volt electrical system paired with an integrated starter generator, known as EQ Boost, that can add up to 21 hp for short periods. The Maybach GLS can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph (97 kph) in 4.8 seconds and reach a top speed of 130 mph (209 kph).