A Maybach SUV? Mercedes-Benz Floats A Concept Designed For The Chinese Market

Mercedes-Benz unveiled a concept for an SUV from its Maybach brand that’s tailored to its largest market: wealthy Chinese customers.

Debuting in Beijing at Auto China 2018 on Tuesday, the Vision Mercedes-Maybach Ultimate Luxury concept is the latest from a list of unlikely brands to delve beyond six-figure executive sedans to investigate the market for ultra-luxury, all-wheel-drive vehicles.

With its mouthful of a name, the Maybach concept is more of a design exercise than a potential model. Though it’s unlikely to go into production, it’s part of a trend that began with the 2016 launch of the Bentley Bentayga SUV and will continue through the release of the Rolls-Royce Cullinan SUV later this year.

The all-electric SUV concept features 750 horsepower, a range of more than 200 miles and a top speed of 155 mph. It’s designed to charge quickly, eking 60 miles in five minutes, an attractive feature on the congested roads of China’s large cities.

As a niche brand whose vehicles can reach hundreds of thousands of dollars, Maybach has tapped China as a growth market. The SUV is the brand’s sixth concept vehicle to debut since 2012; does Maybach really need another? It might in China. It’s no mystery why it chose the biennial auto show in Beijing, the capital city in the world’s largest automotive market, to launch the Vision Mercedes-Maybach Ultimate Luxury concept. Maybach’s largest global dealership is in Hangzhou, China, which sold 242 cars last year, according to a general manager.

“In China, Maybach represents something that is not extravagant or opulent but represents some degree of refinement,” said Nicholas Speeks, president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz China.

The concept carries Maybach's usual, pinstripe suit-inspired vertical grille but includes elements designed for the Asian market such as a high seating position that emphasizes protection and security and a retractable ebony tray with matching tea set. However, the automaker added a few next-generation flourishes. The brand envisions the SUV to serve as a butler that can anticipate riders’ needs, from playing music to match the current mood to learning their appointment calendars to optimize the route.