Just days ahead of its official debut at the Beijing Motor Show – and shortly after an official teaser video was released – we’ve gotten our hands on leaked images of the Mercedes-Maybach Vision Ultimate Luxury concept.
Unlike several recent Maybach prototypes, the show car set to debut in Beijing on April 24 appears to be giving us a good sense of what the ultra-premium brand eventually will bring to bring to market – a production SUV set to take on the likes of the Bentley Bentayga and the upcoming Rolls-Royce Cullinan.
And reflecting the choice of venues Maybach has chosen – China is ramping up rules calling for more zero-emission vehicles, the Ultimate Luxury Concept uses an all-electric drivetrain delivering power through four individual electric motors developing a total of 738 horsepower which Maybach will suggest can punch the show car up to 155 mph.
Those motors draw power from a 60 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack mounted under the concept vehicle’s load floor. That’s enough to yield an estimated EPA range of 200 miles per charge – though obviously not while driving at Autobahn speeds. (Using the more liberal European NEDC test, Maybach is projecting a range of around 310 miles.)
(Mercedes -Maybach Vision 6 Cabriolet is a retro-futuristic show-stopper. Click Here for the story.)
To minimize hassles, the concept could simply roll over an inductive charging mat, likely operating at Level 2 voltages. But for travelers, it could be plugged into one of the new Level 3+ charging systems. Using 350 kilowatts DC – as much as seven time more than current Level 3 fast-chargers – a driver could add another 60 miles of range in under five minutes.
You may recall that Maybach was the name of an ultra-luxurious line of German cars founded in 1909. During World War II it produced tank engines for the German army before being shut down. What was then DaimlerChrysler revived the brand name in 1997, hoping to take on both Rolls and Bentley, but sales were minimal, at best, largely reflecting a hefty price for vehicles based on old Mercedes platforms. The brand was again shut down in 2013.
But, two years later, the Double-M logo was again revived, this time standing for Mercedes-Maybach. Initially, it focused on even more luxurious versions of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. But several recent concepts, starting with the 2016 Mercedes-Maybach 6 Vision Coupe, and the 2017 Vision Cabriolet, have hinted that unique Maybach models could be in the works.
The Ultimate Luxury Concept shifts direction, no surprise, considering that luxury buyers around the world have been migrating away from traditional high-line sedans, coupes and cabriolets in favor of exotic SUVs. The Bentayga is already the best-selling model in the Bentley line-up and of all the super-premium brands, only a handful – notably including McLaren – have resisted following that trend. Lamborghini recently unveiled its Urus, Rolls is getting ready to reveal the Cullinan, and Aston Martin is racing to finish work on the DBX. Even Ferrari is planning to get into the SUV game.
(Click Here for more about the impact of AMG and Maybach on Mercedes sales.)
The question is what will a production Maybach SUV look like? And what platform might it share. Officially, it appears, there are no production plans for the Ultimate Concept, though an SUV is expected to join the brand in the not-too-distant future, or so Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche hinted at the last North American International Auto Show in Detroit, where he said, “I’d like to say you will be seeing it, but I’ll leave it at that.”
Other officials have suggested the eventual Maybach SUV will be distinct from any Mercedes offering, but that doesn’t rule out sharing underlying platforms. That would particularly make sense since Maybach is expected to add several electrified models that could borrow the underpinnings used for the planned all-electric Mercedes-EQ line-up set to start rolling out by the end of the decade.
And China would be a key market considering rules put in place late last year that will require a sizable share of each manufacturer’s fleet to use zero-emission technology.
(To see more about the Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 that looks back at the future, Click Here.)
We’ll be watching and listening to see what else Mercedes-Maybach has to say this week about the Ultimate Luxury Concept.