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Thursday, 7 March, 2002, 09:39 GMT
Daimler launches luxury brand
Maybach 2002
The Maybach, photographed through a dark screen
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By Jorn Madslien
BBC News Online business reporter in Geneva
line
DaimlerChrysler's latest luxury brand, the Maybach, was not exactly unveiled at the International Motor Show in Geneva.

Maybach 1929
The Maybach 1929 looks rather different from the new model
Instead, it was hidden behind a dark glass wall.

But the press launch caused a stir nevertheless.

Photographers were scrambling up against the black screen, desperate to get clean shots of the car.

Journalists gathered around a stunning veteran car from 1929, trying to find out what it had in common with a new car engineered and designed by DaimlerChrysler.

Heritage recreated

The answer, of course, is the badge.

DaimlerChrysler has set out to recreate the heritage of the old German Maybach brand which produced a mere 1,800 luxury cars between 1919 and 1941.

"The Maybach is being revived as a separate brand in its own right in the DaimlerChrysler Group," senior marketing and sales manager Leon Hustinx told BBC News Online.

The car's goal is to cater for the very wealthy by offering them a "highly exclusive, bespoke car in the high-end luxury class", he said.

Members of the Maybach family
Surviving members of the Maybach family were wheeled out as front figures for the car

Which is exactly what Karl Maybach, whose family were friends with the Daimler family, did when he launched the brand in 1919.

DaimlerChrysler's marketing material insists that Mr Maybach "maintained from the outset that he had no intention of building a 'Volkswagen', a car which ordinary people could afford".

German dominance

With the launch of the Maybach, the seriously rich among us will be spoilt for choice.

Photographer trying to snap the new Maybach
Photographers could not get close to the new car

DaimlerChrysler's offering aims to compete head-on with the British subsidiaries of the other two German car makers, BMW and Volkswagen Group.

BMW, which acquired the Roll's Royce brand four years ago, is about to start producing cars to match in a new factory in West Sussex.

Cars should be ready to reach the market next January.

Volkswagen's subsidiary Bentley cars will make up the third major competitor in this market.

Volkswagen, which also bought Rolls Royce cars but not the brand, will continue to build Bentleys in Crewe, Cheshire.

Different approaches

This means the three German car makers have all chosen different ways of entering the market.

DaimlerChrysler has started from scratch with a new car and an unknown name, albeit one with some history.

BMW will enter with a new car, but with a well known brand.

Volkswagen has instead entered the market by buying an existing car company.

"It must be annoying for [the former BMW boss and incoming Volkswagen boss], Bernd Pischetsrieder," said an official from a competing luxury car maker slightly lower down the food chain.

"After all, it was he who managed to snatch the Roll's Royce name from under Volkswagen's nose when he was still in charge of BMW".

See also:

11 Oct 01 | England
Rolls Royce on three-day week
22 May 01 | UK
Car factory plan rolls on
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