Mercedes-Benz sales in China of its Maybach cars are going so well that it almost sells in a month in this country what it used to sell globally in one year. Mercedes has been selling approximately 500 units of the ultraluxury variant of the Mercedes S class. Each vehicle has a starting price of about 1.44 million yuan ($230,000) in China.
In comparison, global sales of the Maybach brand had its peak in 2003 with about 600 cars sold. Back then, the price of each unit was higher than $350,000. Mercedes sales chief Ola Kaellenius said that China sales are “developing very well." This year, Maybach was revived this year to go after the rich customers and compete with the likes of Bentley and Rolls-Royce.
The Maybach models add on what’s available with the standard S class with more legroom and more luxurious options like hand-made silver-plated champagne goblets. It appears that Daimler’s move to narrow the gap between itself and BMW and Audi in China (the largest market in the world) is working. It was in February that Maybach became available in China.
Last month, Mercedes sales increased by 20%, buoyed up by Maybach as well as sales of its SUVs and compact cars. Audi, which is the topselling luxurious brand in China, reported its first sales decrease in over 2 years. During an event last week, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche said that the company is “very optimistic” about being able to maintain its momentum.
Daimler’s growth in China has to be strong enough to achieve its ambition of surpassing BMW and Audi in worldwide sales by the end of the decade. China, which is the biggest market in the world for the S class, is also needed to achieve profit margins due to the high sales of range-topping vehicles in the country.
Sticker prices go up because of taxes and fees. Maybach’s imported vehicles cost even more. Mercedes sells Maybach in China as “the premier choice of China's modern-day luminaries as they show their utmost respect to the world."
Daimler tried to revive Maybach in 2002 but it did poorly, partly because it shared many characteristics with the S class. When the decision was made to phase it out in 2011, it sold from 200 to 300 cars annually.