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Decision is near on Maybach

Mon, 13 Jun 2011 00:00:00 -0700

Daimler AG will decide the fate of Maybach by July 1. The two options: Kill the slow-selling superluxury sedan or partner with British carmaker Aston Martin on a second-generation car.

At a Daimler event in Stuttgart, Germany, last week, CEO Dieter Zetsche said "there is a higher likelihood to come to a positive decision" for a second-generation Maybach if a partner is involved.

Zetsche confirmed Daimler has been in discussions with Aston Martin. No other potential partner has emerged.

A concept for the next-generation car has been developed and a final decision is pending, he said.

Zetsche said Daimler made the mistake of spending more than $1 billion on development of the Maybach and "it was not a good investment for a small-volume vehicle."

Maybach produced 157 cars last year, according to IHS Automotive. Mercedes-Benz USA said 63 Maybachs were sold in the United States last year.

Mercedes-Benz had expected to sell 1,500 Maybachs annually, 500 of them in the United States. The car went on sale in the U.S. market in 2003 as a 2004 model-year vehicle.

The discussions with Aston Martin center on production of a second-generation Maybach by the British luxury brand.

According to company sources, a deal with Aston Martin also could include the supply of V8 engines to Aston Martin for other vehicles.

Sources also said Aston Martin wants to buy V12 engines and seven-speed automatic transmissions from Mercedes-Benz.

Aston Martin is owned by a joint venture that includes Investment Dar, a Kuwaiti shareholding company.

By Diana T. Kurylko and Harald Hamprecht- Automotive News