A partnership between Aston Martin and Mercedes looks likely, with Aston Martin to be taxed with designing and building the next generation Maybach.
Actually, whether to keep Maybach on the Daimler life support system is a question that has taxed the brains of many a Mercedes exec, almost since the Maybach brand got its revival under Mercedes and turned in to a cross between a stretched old S-Class, a Playstation and a glitterball.
Because despite the efforts of Mercedes to position the Maybach above the S-Class – and in to competition with Rolls Royce and Bentley – the Maybach has somehow conspired to be less desirable than the S-Class. Well, that is unless you’re a very tall, fire-breathing businessman or his shorter, Greek-er sidekick.
So what to do with Maybach? There is no question that Mercedes can afford to play at making an uber-limousine and swallow the losses. If they perceive a value in the brand they will continue, just as they have with loss-making Smart and just as VW do with Bugatti.
But maybe Maybach is more of an image liability than an image enhancer? Maybe, instead of enhancing brand Mercedes, it detracts?
So it seems the demise of Maybach is very much on the cards. Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche said in January that closing Maybach down was an option, and that a decision will be made this year. It now looks as though that timetable has moved forward to July.
The decision seems to revolve around deal with Aston Martin. If the bean counters can make it add up, Aston Martin will design and build a new generation of Maybach for Mercedes and use that car as a basis to revive a Lagonda limousine to go with the planned Lagonda SUV.
There’s a lot of sense for in equation on both sides. Aston Martin really doesn’t have the funding to develop its own platforms and engines and, without the shelter of Ford’s R&D, it needs a tie-in with a major car maker with plenty of engine and platform options.
Mercedes, on the other hand, really isn’t geared up for small scale production, and the numbers of Maybachs that have actually made it to the road are so small that they are effectively hand-made cars.
So having Aston Martin design and build the next Maybach (although, if the numbers remain very small, it could actually end up being CPP building for Aston Martin, building for Maybach, building for Mercedes…) makes sense. And we would hope that with Aston Martin’s design team on the case the next generation Maybach could be drop-dead gorgeous.
Our money’s on a Maybach/Aston Martin tie-up, and an announcement on 1st July.