x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

End of the road as Maybach becomes museum piece

Daimler is shut down the super-luxury Maybach brand, popular in the UAE, ending almost a decade of losses.

The Maybach brand has been making losses for a decade. Only 200 units of the brand were sold worldwide last year. Courtesy Daimler
The Maybach brand has been making losses for a decade. Only 200 units of the brand were sold worldwide last year. Courtesy Daimler

The last car Sheikh Zayed, the founding President of the UAE, was seen using was a purple Maybach on his way to a wedding in 2004.

It now sits in a museum - a fate likely to befall a few more of the luxury cars in the years to come, after its manufacturer decided to discontinue the brand.

Daimler, the owner of Maybach, has announced it will phase out the ultra-luxury saloon cars and replace them with a new version of the Mercedes-Benz S class. The Maybach brand, which is sold by Gargash Enterprises in Dubai and Emirates Motor Company in Abu Dhabi, has been making losses for a decade.

"We came to the strong conclusion that the sales chances for the Mercedes brand are much stronger than those for Maybach," Dieter Zetsche, the Daimler chief executive, told the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

Daimler has failed to make a profit on the Maybach after deciding to reintroduce the marque in 2002, Mr Zetsche said.

It sold just 200 Maybachs worldwide last year. The highest number it ever sold was in 2003, when 600 were offloaded globally.

Despite the weak sales, the news that the brand is being discontinued is likely to disappoint many car enthusiasts in the Middle East, where the brand is highly regarded.

Maybachshowed off a number of cars at this month's Dubai motor show.

Nader Murshed, the sales manager for Maybach in Dubai, said sales had been improving and that Gargash sold 15 of the cars last year.

"We are happy with the brand because its sales have been good across the years," he said. "We have not been told what the plan is for the Maybach factory though."

There are four Maybach models sold in the UAE; the 57, 57s, 62 and 62s, with prices ranging from Dh1.7 million (US$462,786) to Dh2.5m, Mr Murshed said.

The Mercedes S Class will now be extended from three models to six in 2013, when the Maybach will finally be put to bed.

The super-luxury brand was originally popular in the 1920s and 1930s in Germany before being launched again in 2002 to compete with Rolls-Royce and Bentley, which have been acquired by BMW and Volkwagen, respectively.

But in the nearly 10 years since its reintroduction, the Maybach has struggled to compete with sales globally of its peers, despite being a firm favourite of the late founder of the UAE.

Sheikh Zayed's Maybach is on display in Sheikh Zayed Centre in Abu Dhabi, located just off Bainuna Street in Al Bateen.

rjones@thenational.ae