Daimler AG and Aston Martin are “close” to deciding on a cooperation agreement for the ultra-luxury Maybach brand, according to Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche who spoke at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
He said that Daimler has been negotiating with Aston Martin but he didn’t give details. Maybach, a German luxury brand that was very popular in the 1930s, was reintroduced in 2002 but it had failed to become a major contender to BMW AG's Rolls-Royce and Volkswagen AG's Bentley.
It had aimed to sell over 1,000 each year but in 2003, it only sold 600 and in 2011, just 200 were sold. In comparison, Rolls-Royce sold 2,700 vehicles in 2010 while Bentley sold 5,100.
Aside from Maybach’s declining sales, Daimler also is faced with the task of taking back its top spot as Audi has taken Mercedes’ position as the world's second-largest luxury-car brand, according to Autonews. Daimler and Aston Martin had collaborated on the 2009 Lagonda concept car.
Last June, Automotive News Europe reported that Daimler is studying several options for Maybach. A source said that one solution would be to partner with Aston Martin, which will then produce the second-generation Maybach.
Aston Martin has designed four concepts for Daimler based on the next-generation S-class architecture. Aston Martin may get access to Daimler's four-wheel-drive technology for an off-road vehicle it is thinking about building based on the Mercedes-Benz GL. Aston Martin is also expected to gain from Daimler's range of fuel-efficient diesel and gasoline engines.
Maybach is currently a standalone ultra-luxury car brand own by Daimler. Its vehicles share significant components with Mercedes-Benz. It traces its roots to Wilhelm Maybach and his son Karl. The father and son founded the Luftfahrzeug-Motorenbau GmbH in 1909 as a subsidiary of Luftschiffbau Zeppelin GmbH. It was originally intended to develop and manufacture diesel and petrol engines for Zeppelins. Luftfahrzeug-Motorenbau was renamed as Maybach-Motorenbau in 1912.
Maybach first built an experimental car in 1919 and unveiled it as a production model at the 1921 Berlin Motor Show. Maybach built a number of opulent vehicles between 1921 and 1940. Daimler-Benz purchased the Maybach in 1960 and the company was tasked to build special editions of Mercedes cars in the W108 and W116 model range. The Maybach brand went to produce luxury ultra-models such as Maybach 57, Maybach 62 and Maybach 57S.
The company has been heavily hit by poor sales as well as by the global financial crisis in 2007 and 2008. This prompted its parent Daimler AG to initial a review of the Maybach division.