Chrysler was lucky - Maybach dealers get screwed
That’s the total number of Maybach’s sold by the entire United States dealer network in 2006.
Maybach started out with 71 dealers. Now it is down to 42. The others gave up their franchises, in exchange for payments from Mercedes-Benz which one dealer said amounted to one-fourth of the dealer’s investment.
And it’s a safe bet that whomever was unfortunate enough to have purchased one of these overpriced last generation S Class cars got screwed even more: no dealer nearby, nothing better than just another Mercedes-Benz owner.
When it became apparent from BMW’s acquisition of the Rolls-Royce name, and the eventual acquisition of the car to go with it, that BMW would have an entry in the super luxury market, Mercedes-Benz rushed into the breach with a Super S Class Mercedes they called the Maybach.
The Maybach name belonged to a premier class of automobile built in Germany during the 1930’s, at a price level only the 540 level of Mercedes could equal. Known more as the company that built the engines for the Zeppelins (after the Zeppelin company found Mercedes-Benz engines dangerously unreliable), Maybach had a reputation for supreme quality and engineering – at the time. But the depression did them in and Daimler-Benz ultimately ended up owning the company’s assets, including the name.
A name almost no one knew.
A name not exactly at the level of public appreciation as the Rolls-Royce, the car made legendary by a legendary history and imaginative advertising campaign. In the 1960’s, they sold the Rolls-Royce as the car in which the only sound you hear at 60 mph is the ticking of the clock. The ads were so successful that Ford claimed its LTD was quieter when it introduced the car in 1968.
But nobody compared anything to the Maybach.
Now the brand is imploding.
In a year’s time, Maybach has shuttered about one-third of its dealers, though it says it has no plans to diminish the dealer ranks more.
On the other hand, the company has not announced any plans for a new model, and the current Maybach is based on the last generation S Class. That makes it a lot of money for an old car. Especially since it looks a lot like the old S Class.
At 25¢ on the dollar, the guys at Chrysler look like they came out of their skirmish pretty well.
At 25¢ to get out of selling a warmed-over has-been of a car, the dealers who’ve sold out appear to have been ahead of the wave.
At zero cents on the dollar to sell one or two cars a year, on average, the dealers that remain may turn out to be the real losers.