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Maybach Learning Some Costly Lessons

Life's little lessons can be costly - especially when you're launching a new brand into one of the most rarified segments of the automotive market.

DaimlerChrysler's new Maybach marque has gotten off to a slower than expected start due to skeptical buyers and a global economic malaise. That has forced the automaker to rethink its strategy for the high-line brand, starting with its sales forecast, company officials concede. But they stress that DaimlerChrysler remains committed to the Maybach project.

"We have had to learn several lessons" since Maybach launched last year, Leon Hustinx, director of Maybach sales and marketing operations, acknowledged during an interview with

In all, Maybach delivered about 600 cars worldwide during 2003, Hustinx revealed. While he agreed that was short of the target, he declined to say by precisely how much. Longer term, Maybach had intended to sell a minimum of 1000 cars a year at prices running north of $300,000 apiece.

Now, said Hustinx, "I don't think 1000 is realistic."

The shortfall reflects a slow launch, especially in the critical U.S. market, which is expected to provide the lion's share of customers for Maybach's two models, the M57 and M62 sedans.
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