Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche said this week at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show that the German automaker will decide by year-end whether or not to shutter its super-luxury Maybach division.
The line of cars, meant to compete against the likes of Bentley and Rolls-Royce, has seen its business wither during the economic downturn. "The success or failure of Maybach hardly shows up on our results, but it is something I want to have a decision on by year-end. And everything is on the table," said Zetsche. Killing it off? "Everything is on the table," Zetsche repeated.
The Financial Times reported last month that Daimler was in talks with Aston Martin about taking over the development of future Maybachs. Zetsche said that partnerships like that are also on the table to see if there is a viable business model for the business.
Maybachs, which start at $366,000 have been popular with some pro athletes and hip hop moguls. Jay-Z and Russell Simmons are among owners. Jay Leno owns one as well. Golfing great Nick Faldo has been among the brand pitchmen.
The current lineup of Maybachs includes the Maybach 57 and 57S, Maybach 62 and 62S, and the Landaulet. Maybach first hit the boulevards in 1919, but was discontinued when World War Two broke out. Daimler-Benz bought what was left of the company in 1960.
The current-day Maybach made its debut at the 1997 Tokyo Auto Show at the height of the dot-com economy, and went on sale globally shortly thereafter. Last year, Maybach sold 63 cars in the U.S.