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Why The Maybach 62 Was Such A Failure

The Maybach 62 was an attempt to capitalise on a dormant brand-name that Daimler had bought more than 40 years earlier, but done nothing with in the meanwhile. It failed spectacularly.

Gottlieb Maybach was first set up in business way back in 1909, manufacturing engines for Zeppelin airships, and then engines for ships and aircraft. After the First World War they built cars as well, and these became well-known for being big, luxurious and reliable.

During World War II they produced most of the engines that powered Germany's tanks, mobile guns and half tracks; but after the war was over car production was not restarted. Daimler-Benz bought the company in 1960 and used it to build cars carrying their Mercedes badge but by 1997 a decision was made to relaunch the Maybach name. What a mess they made of it.

In 2002 they launched two new cars, the Maybach 57 and 62, each numbered according to their length in tenths of a metre. They were designed to be a direct competitor to the Rolls-Royce Phantom. The 57 was aimed at the owner driver and the 62 at the chauffeur driven elite.

The Rolls Royce Phantom was a superb car which was right bang up-to-date, having been designed from scratch. The Maybach however was just a heavy body planted on top of an almost obsolete Mercedes S class chassis; and no amount of luxurious internal fittings could take away the fact that it simply wasn't anywhere near as comfortable a ride for the passengers as they could enjoy in the Rolls-Royce.

It didn't help that the Maybach name had been moribund for so long; few people had even heard of it, whereas Rolls-Royce had international fame as a luxurious and prestigious car manufacturer. Despite its impressive list of comforts (the rear seats even had back massage, for goodness sake!) and it's impressive performance (it could reach 155 mph, with 0-60 in 5.4 seconds) it was described by the motoring magazine 'Top Gear' as one of the worst cars produced in the last 20 years, and equivalent to a Hyundia body (a luxury one, admittedly) stuck on an out of date chassis. The most popular impression of it was that it bore a striking resemblance to an old but well maintained funeral car.

Whilst the Rolls-Royce Phantom was enjoying a very profitable level of sales, those of the Maybach were dire and the company eventually lost an estimated 330,000 euros on every sale. The brand was dropped completely in 2013.

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