Ultra-Luxury Automakers Tapping Into China’s Emerging Western Markets
Following the footsteps of Bentley, the British ultra-luxury car brand that made its Xi’an debut last month, this week, the Mercedes-owned ultra-luxury imprint Maybach unveiled its China-inspired Maybach 62 in Xi’an, capital city of Shaanxi Province. Attracted by a relative lack of competition in northwest China, it appears Maybach doesn’t want to fall behind other top car brands. This indicates that ultra-luxury automakers are confident in demand from inland regions, and may further indicate that ultra-luxury segments are insulated from the turbulence hitting mass-market brands like BMW, as the wealthiest Chinese are buying not only to display their worth, but also because they don’t want to stay cash-heavy, in terms of assets.
The China-only Maybach 62, a beefed-up 457-horsepower 5.5-liter V12 version of the earlier 62, features handmade leather, real wood trim, and steel and crystal accents. The vehicle measures 1,998mm wide, making it one of the largest mass-production luxury vehicles in the world. (A plus in China, typically known as the land of the long-wheelbase luxury car.) In terms of high-tech, Maybach 62 is equipped with built-in wireless networking and a panoramic glass roof with electronic controls.
By creating a China-only model, Maybach is echoing the recent strategy of Rolls-Royce, appealing to the preference for limited-edition models we see in the Chinese mainland. Also, Maybach is following in the footsteps of both Rolls-Royce and Bentley in its new strategy of targeting less developed but still fast-growing regional markets. This hints that Maybach may believe a customized edition will find a more receptive audience in inland China, specifically cities with relatively young luxury consumer populations like Xi’an, although we would point out that this is far from proven.