FRANKFURT - Daimler is set to revive Maybach, a brand once coveted by oligarchs, rap stars and royals, to woo a growing class of ultra-wealthy clients in Asia and the United States, a person familiar with the company's plans said.
The brand will be used to adorn an exclusive version of its S-Class limousine fitted with soft-touch leather and bespoke materials to help lure clients from other high-end brands like Rolls Royce and Bentley.
The Maybach will be showcased at both the Guangzhou and the Los Angeles auto shows in November and cost more than double the 165,000-euro ($228,000) asking price of its current flagship, the Mercedes-Benz S600, the person said.
Not to be outdone, rival BMW is expected to unveil a concept version of its top-of-the-line 7-series limousine at the Beijing auto show later this week, as it seeks to attract Chinese clients who are snapping up German premium cars.
The Mercedes Maybach will have a wheelbase that is 20 centimeters longer than even the extended version of its S-Class, allowing for extra leg space and making it the longest limousine in the Mercedes range until the expected launch of an even longer Pullman version, the source said.
Daimler stopped making bespoke Maybach limousines in 2012 after efforts to sell cars based on a unique design and costing around $380,000 failed to gain traction with clients.
Only 200 Maybachs were sold in 2011, but the cars were coveted by celebrities including Russia's Roman Abramovich, hip hop musician Jay-Z and King Juan Carlos of Spain.
Since mid-2012, the number of millionaires worldwide has grown by nearly 2 million, the vast majority of them in the United States and Asia, Credit Suisse said in its World Wealth Report.
There are 98,700 individuals with assets worth more than $50 million each, and by 2018, global wealth will jump a further 40 per cent to reach $334 trillion, the Swiss bank's study shows.