The buzz around the automotive world today is that Maybach, Daimler’s top of the line luxury marquis, will be killed off in 2013. It never really became the sales success that the company had predicted when relaunched in 2002. In fact, sales were so slow that several U.S. dealerships had to be bought back in 2007. There are already plans in place to use a multi-wheelbase Mercedes-Benz S-Class to take the place of the 57 and 62 models.
Maybach shouldn’t have turned out the way it did, comparing both the 57 and 62 to its competitors from Bentley and Rolls-Royce, and you can literally see the problem. They look too much like the cheaper Mercedes-Benz models that they are based off of.
This might be okay when you look at the lowest echelon of the luxury car market, mainly with the American and Japanese brands. A Lexus ES350 is a nice luxury car, but it is obviously based on the cheaper Toyota Camry. However, with its entry level pricing, the Lexus can be forgiven for its badge engineering. The same could be said for the Ford Fusion-based Lincoln MKZ.
People who are buying luxury cars with $300,000 plus tags, they’re less likely to forgive a car. Yes, Bentley is owned by Volkswagen and Rolls-Royce is owned by BMW, but both companies do enough to mask these connections. For example, both luxury cars are built in England in dedicated factories, even the BMW 7-series-based Rolls-Royce Ghost, while the Maybachs are built alongside its S-class brethren.
The Maybachs also didn’t have enough special to them to dictate the high price tag. In a review by CNN in 2006, the reviewer liked the Rolls-Royce Phantom over the Maybach 57S. The reason was that the Phantom kept its unique, original “waftability” over the 57S’s modern styling, high performance, and standard equipment.
Ultimately, the 57 and 62 weren’t worth the price that Daimler was asking. If they took a unique path to building these cars, Maybach would have been a success.