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Culture

Mercedes Rolls Out the Maybach in Manhattan

Despite Wall Street's continuing downward spiral this week, DaimlerChrysler remains convinced that there are plenty of millionaires in the US who will want a luxury automobile.

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DaimlerChrysler expects to sell about 400 Maybachs a year in the US.

The journey began a week ago as the first Maybach 62 left DaimlerChrysler’s factory near Stuttgart. The 6.17 meter (20.24 foot) limo was transported to England, stored in a custom-made glass container aboard the Queen Elizabeth 2, shipped across the Atlantic, transported by helicopter from the luxury-liner to Pier 90 in mid-Manhattan and then driven – with a police escort – to Wall Street.

There – where brokers and investors alike are still reeling from the Enron collapse, news about last week’s WorldCom accounting scandal and weeks of market declines – Daimler executives put on a happy face as hundreds of journalists from around the world gathered for the publicity event.

Searching for the Exceptional

"Despite all this, there are successful people who are searching for something exceptional and who can afford it," said Jürgen Hubbert, the Daimler board member responsible for the Maybach. "That’s true not only for cars, but for other aspects of their lives. Because of this, we are optimistic that these people will choose the Maybach when they’re looking for the right car."

Daimler plans to begin production this fall, with five cars being produced each day. The price tag: 360,000 euro ($353,532). The company expects to sell 1,000 Maybachs annually. 40 percent of sales are expected to come from the US, 25 percent in western Europe, 20 percent in Asia and the rest in the Middle East and Russia.

Personalized Service

Customers will receive personalized service and kid-glove treatment, promised Daimler executives. Besides choosing custom colors, trims and other individualized features that will make each Maybach unique, buyers are also invited to the factory to watch as their car rolls down the assembly line.

The limo, with a V12 engine, features reclining leather seats, a telephone and computer system that allows passengers to make phone calls and send e-mail and faxes. A top-of-the-line sound system is part of the package, of course, as is a flat-screen monitor for watching DVD’s or TV.

Maybach "commissioning studios" are being set up in select Mercedes showrooms and orders will be taken starting in September for cars that will be delivered next spring.

A Name With History

In choosing the name "Maybach," Daimler is referring back to Wilhelm Maybach, who invented the first Mercedes and then later formed an engine company that Daimler later acquired. In the 1920s and 30s, Maybach’s son Karl began producing luxury cars under the Maybach brand – these exclusive cars were popular with royalty and celebrities of the time.

"We're using the name Maybach to emphasize the unique character of our future premium-quality product and to carry on the tradition of a legendary brand," said Hubbert. "The vehicles will set new standards in the world of premium cars, thus paying due honor to the great name of Maybach."

On Tuesday, Karl Maybach’s daughter, Irmgard Schmid-Maybach, was on hand for the Wall Street event. "It’s very satisfying personally that the name Maybach is associated with such a top-quality product again. I can only say that I hope Daimler enjoys as much success as Wilhelm did when he built the first Mercedes."

In late September, Daimler will bring out the slightly smaller Maybach 57 at the Paris auto show. Together they are seen as competition to a new Rolls-Royce being prepared by BMW and a sporty new Bentley being produced by Volkswagen.

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