Chances are, you’ve never heard of Maybach. And that’s part of the problem.
Maybach is Mercedes-Benz ultra-luxury brand, designed to compete against Volkswagen-owned Bentley and Rolls-Royce, which is owned by BMW. Named after Wilhelm Maybach, the German-based company built diesel engines for zeppelins and trains until Mercedes-owner Daimler purchased it in 1960. The automaker then re-launched the brand in 2002 after being outbid by Volkswagen for Bentley and by BMW for Rolls-Royce.
Daimler is shutting down Maybach for the most basic reason: low sales. Automotive News guesstimates Maybach sold fewer than 45 sedans in the U.S. so far this year. The final nail, though, came from internal studies by Daimler that showed Mercedes-Benz vehicles would sell better among ultra-luxury car buyers in key markets (e.g., the U.S.) than Maybach. “It would not be sensible to develop a successor model for the current Maybach,” says Dieter Zetsche, CEO of Daimler. Instead, the automaker plans to expand its Mercedes-Benz S-Class lineup including three long variations and S600 Pullman flagship. Daimler plans to continue the existing Maybach 57 and 62 models until 2013 when the next generation S-Class sedans will make their debuts.