Not so at Mercedes-Benz, which is struggling to improve the fortunes of its own ultra-lux brand, Maybach. As TheCarConnection reported in Daily Edition earlier this month, Mercedes sold an estimated 500 of the big M57 and M62 sedans last year, and expects an even sharper drop in '05. During the first quarter, sales were a lame 67.
What's wrong? Poor design, some analysts suggest. The Maybach is simply not distinctive enough, while the Phantom went way over the top with its locomotive-like front end. There are certainly enough mega-millionaires and billionaires with the money to burn on cars in this price range, though. And if there's any consolation for industry planners, it's over at Bentley. Rolls' former partner has an estimated 10 months waiting list for its sporty Continental GT, and a reasonable level of demand for the more expensive Arnage. It's also in launch mode for the new Continental Flying Spur, a sedan sharing platforms with the GT. Then there's Ferrari, with its near-permanent 3-year waiting list. The rich, perhaps, aren't so different from you or me, after all. Sure, they have plenty of money, but they aren't just going to throw it away without a good reason. So far, Rolls and Maybach simply haven't justified themselves.