Pricey Maybach ready to roll out

Marketing

Mercedes-Benz’s Alabama plant is committed to delivering the most expensive mass-production passenger vehicle made in America on time.

The Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 4MATIC arrives in stores in December and starts at $161,550, including shipping. Fully loaded, the SUV will top out at nearly $200,000.

The plant in Vance, which builds the GLE, GLE Coupe and GLS and is tooling up to launch electric vehicle production, started making the Maybach SUV in September. Despite the plant being shut down temporarily in the spring along with the rest of the auto industry because of the coronavirus pandemic, a Daimler spokeswoman said the new ultraluxury SUV is on schedule for retail distribution.

The SUV could deliver fatter profit margins. Ultraluxury SUVs, which often share platforms with much less expensive vehicles, are cash cows for automakers. The global market for ultraluxury SUVs should grow from around 7,500 in 2018 to more than 20,000 by 2023, according to AutoForecast Solutions. About 75 percent of these vehicles will be sold in the U.S. and China.

Ed Kim, AutoPacific principal analyst, said that in image and functionality, luxury SUVs speak to the tastes of luxury customers far more than luxury sedans do.

“They have money to spend, and they want the most prestige they can get for their money,” he said. “These days, luxury SUVs provide just that.”

The Maybach SUV, based on the redesigned third-generation GLS platform, is powered by a specially developed 550-hp V-8 engine.

The engine is combined with a 48-volt electrical system paired with an integrated starter generator, known as EQ Boost, that can add up to 21 hp for short periods. The Maybach GLS can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds and reach a top speed of 130 mph.

The new model features E-Active Body Control, a suspension system developed by Mercedes-Benz that is powered in part by the 48-volt system. The technology combines a hydropneumatic active suspension with the Mercedes Airmatic air suspension system and allows spring and damping forces to be individually controlled at each wheel, counteracting body roll, pitch and squat, the automaker said.

The next generation of the Maybach SUV could be electrified. Mercedes plans to introduce an electric Maybach within three years as the automaker aims to decarbonize its fleet to meet tightening emissions standards.

Exterior highlights include the Maybach-exclusive grille with vertical louvers, a standing Mercedes-Benz star on the hood (a first for a Mercedes SUV), chrome trim elements and retracting Maybach running boards.

The cabin is available as a five-seater or a four-seater, with all seats electrically adjustable, heated, ventilated and equipped with massage.

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