Until now, anyone who wanted to buy a really expensive car had little choice.

Rolls-Royce and Bentley came into question.

At first glance, there are few differences between the two sisters, who after 71 years have finally gone their separate ways.

Even the hood ornament has both wings.

Marco Dettweiler

Editor in business.

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The new Maybach from DaimlerChrysler only has a modified Mercedes star on the hood, but below it at least 550 hp and the corresponding price when you buy it: it starts at 300,000 euros.

The customer as initiator

There are twisted economic conditions in this price range.

"The customers came up to us and said: We would like more space, more luxury and even more individualization," says Stefan Diehl, press spokesman for DaimlerChrysler.

The customer is king.

DaimlerChrysler builds the luxury sedan.

Made to measure at the car tailor

“The Maybach is only manufactured on customer request.

The factory is designed so that seven vehicles can be produced per day. "Press spokesman Diehl does not provide any information about the minimum quota, but" there is a fixed group of customers, of whom the respective customers have paid 50,000 euros in order to have priority with the delivery . “The numerous customers come from the USA, Japan and the Arab region.

"But there are also enormous inquiries in Europe."

Press spokesman Diehl does not comment on Rolls-Royce or Bentley.

“The demand in the high-end area is very manageable.

We are confident that we will achieve our goals despite the competition. "

Rare, but expensive

If you look at the average production figures at Rolls-Royce, you can conveniently save the customer data of luxury lovers in a Palm.

"An average of 1,000 Rolls-Royce vehicles are manufactured at the new Good Wood location in the south of England," confirms Fred Fruth, press spokesman for the Rolls-Royce project of the BMW Group.

This level was already adhered to by the British when they were not yet part of the BMW Group.

According to official statements from DaimlerChrysler last year, the annual number of Maybachs that roll off the assembly line will be 1500.

Sporting competition

At Rolls-Royce, too, the Maybach's ascent is calm.

Competition is stimulating business and “2003 will be one of the most exciting for the luxury sedan clientele.

The vehicles that will be around have never been of this density and quality. "

Noble arms race

The sportiness of the competition in full honor.

The tough competition can also be interpreted a little differently.

The statement by press spokesman Furth points in this direction.

"The role that Rolls-Royce will play in the BMW Group is the exclusive service of the high-end sector".

The situation is similar in the lower area: BMW serves this segment with the Mini-Cooper.

DaimlerChrysler is now attacking the premium segment with a different strategy.

They cover all sectors from the smallest segment with the A-Class to the luxury segment with the Maybach.

The so-called premium class covered the S-class until a few years ago.

The company now sells around 100,000 S-Class cars per year.

"As a result, DaimlerChrysler has lost its original status of being the non-plus-ultra in the automotive sector a little," says Sebastian Stein, an analyst at Bankgesellschaft Berlin.

King Premium

“In the end, it's about who is the king of the automobile manufacturer.” With the Maybach, DaimlerChrysler could regain its absolute royal dignity.

But the others also want to play king.

So they occupied the top segments.

"If BMW builds a Rolls-Royce and VW is about to present a new Bentley, then DaimlerChrysler has the problem that, as the one who defines the premium segment, you need something you can keep up with." So you bring the Maybach.

Small market for large sleds

“At the moment, the whole market is defined by the 2000 Rolls-Royce and Bentleys that exist every year. So a very small segment, ”says Stein. For Rolls Royce (BMW), Bentley (VW) and DaimlerChrysler, this duel in the premier class raises the question of whether this small market will even allow this gigantic battle. Analyst Stein names two prerequisites: “The car market has grown and the number of people who can afford a luxury car has also increased.” Even if a car costs more than 300,000 euros.