Mercedes-Maybach takes a stealth wealth cue from Rolls-Royce

New Night Series options programme allows customers to personalise their vehicles to higher degrees of exclusivity 


ON MAY 24, Mercedes-Maybach didn’t unveil a new car, but its new Night Series options programme essentially signals an addition to the German auto manufacturer’s top-of-the-line-up. 

The Night Series design package allows customers to personalise their luxury vehicles to higher degrees of exclusivity. There are extra options for exteriors and interiors, such as dark chrome and rose gold trim, dark-gloss wheels, jewel-cut surfaces and herringbone wood patterns built into the cabin. There’s also a special start-up animation that will appear on the vehicle’s computer interface and unique-hued ambient lighting inside the car. 

Night Series treatment is available only on the 2024 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class, the 2024 Mercedes-Maybach EQS SUV and the 2024 Mercedes-Maybach GLS, all of which are expected to boast starting prices of around US$200,000 (RM922,000). The Mercedes-Maybach SL would likely join in late 2024 as a 2025 model-year vehicle. 

A Mercedes spokesperson declined to confirm when the company will begin taking customer orders on the new line-up, nor details of future product plans citing competitive reasons. 

Setting aside special stylings for high-paying customers is a lucrative business. 

Rolls-Royce has often noted the profitability of its Black Badge sub-brand, which it largely credits for growth and record sales in 2022. Introduced as a programme in 2016, Black Badge vehicles are marketed as the edgier alter egos of regular Rolls-Royce cars. In 2022, vehicles with the Black Badge treatment accounted for 35% of sales in North America and as much as 50% in some markets in other parts of the world, according to a Rolls-Royce spokesperson. The current wait time for a Black Badge Rolls-Royce Cullinan is 12 to 16 months, the spokesperson says, versus closer to six months for a standard Cullinan. 

Mercedes-Maybach also offers interiors that offset the darkened exterior elements

Rolls-Royce also credits Black Badge for helping reduce the average age of its clients to just over 40, because the programme is marketed as an ultra-cool, young and powerful status symbol of stealth wealth. 

“Our customers are the youngest in the (BMW) group — younger on average even than Mini’s,” Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös told Bloomberg earlier this year. The spokesperson declined to share the average age of the Mercedes-Maybach buyer but noted that the average age of a Mercedes-AMG customer is 53.7 years old, while the average age of a Mercedes-Benz customer is 50.5 years old. 

The spokesperson also declined to provide pricing for Night Series vehicles, noting that the cost will differ depending on the market and the customer’s choices for personalisation. By comparison, Black Badge Rolls-Royces command a premium of roughly US$45,000 over standard models, according to the company.

In an emailed statement, Gorden Wagener, the chief design officer of Mercedes-Benz Group AG, characterised the options as offering “a playful sense of rebellion” compared to what you might typically see in a brand such as Maybach. In the previous decade, the brand had become known for selling very long, anodyne saloons that skewed more fuddy-duddy town car than tony tastemaker. 

Mercedes has introduced various Maybach models off and on since the Maybach 52 and Maybach 62 in 2002, but the auto-maker worked hardest in recent years to permanently rejuvenate the 114-year-old marque. (Daimler-Benz AG acquired Maybach Motorenbau GmbH in 1960, mostly for access to its renowned engines.) 

In 2022, Mercedes-Maybach introduced the two-tone, 18-foot-long S680 sedan developed by Virgil Abloh, the late head of menswear for Louis Vuitton, to much fanfare and critical acclaim. A Mercedes-Maybach “Haute Voiture” (a play on “haute couture”) sports bouclé door panels that look like they could have come out of the Chanel atelier. The vehicle has recently started production, and all 150 units are spoken for. Bloomberg 

  • This article first appeared in The Malaysian Reserve weekly print edition