Tokyo--A competition between three Mercedes-Benz studios has produced an ultra-luxury prototype car designed to be a chauffeur-driven vehicle. The prototype was unveiled at the 32nd Tokyo Motor Show in October 1997.
The winning design, the Maybach Design Concept, came out on top of Mercedes' Idea Competition from the Yokohama, Japan, Daimler-Benz studio. The design study is a working prototype, says Harald Leshke, vice president of advanced design for the Daimler-Benz Advanced Design Center in Mercedes' headquarters in Germany.
The car was originally prototyped for reference as a see-through model on a 1:4 model scale in Italy to get an impression of the car, Leshke says. German technical designers stayed in Italy to follow the operations, where the car was assembled and transformed into a running prototype on a 1:1 scale.
"The object was to create a nice-looking modern car with the traditional elements of Mercedes," Leschke adds. "The Maybach is a very exclusive car. There is a small but growing market worldwide that likes these sort of cars."
The Maybach name honors Wilhelm Maybach, who helped create the first Daimler gasoline engine. Maybach Motoren GmbH, Maybach's car company, which is now a part of the Daimler-Benz group, created the 12-cylinder Maybach Zeppelin in the 1930s.
The Maybach Design Concept was created from a hybrid construction of composites of working materials such as carbon fiber, aluminum, and magnesium. These materials were chosen for their lightness, Leschke says. "We think that by using these materials, we can reduce weight." Heavier materials, such as stainless steel, will be used in smaller quantities.
The car's engine, a V12, is made from magnesium and aluminum and shares three-valve-per-cylinder, twin-sparkplug technology with Mercedes' 1998 V6 and V8 engines. The V6 is more than 10% more fuel efficient than the inline six-cylinder it replaces. The Maybach engine also features a cylinder cutout function for partial-load operation and optimum exhaust gas post-treatment.
The car's interior features leather, stainless steel, and wood materials. The exterior features a separation between the two exterior colors, black and red, and chrome highlights the shape of the car. The side molding is luminescent and adjustable for brightness.
"The car is a prototype, but we try to give it a real sense of use," Leschke says. "We try to make life as comfortable as possible for back-seat passengers. This is a chauffeur-driven car."
Indeed, this car has many luxury features. "The seat is adjustable, just like in the first-class section of an airplane," Leschke says. Other amenities include a hot and cold bar, an LCD screen to view television or DVD video, video games, and three telephones.
The future of the Maybach Design Concept depends on public response to it. "Market interest will be the deciding factor in whether we will put the car into production," Leschke says. Mercedes expects to make the decision this spring.
A luxurious comparison
How the Maybach Design concept stacks upagainst the Mercedes S-Class
Maybach Design Concept Mercedes S-Class
Wheelbase 139.4 inches 123.6 inches
Length 227.2 inches 205.2 inches
Height 61 inches 58.5 inches
Width 76.8 inches 74.3 inches
Engine V12, under 6 liters in displacement
Inline six, V8, or V12 are available