The first of more than 20 prototypes of the Mercedes-Benz Maybach ultra-luxury car begin their worldwide practical trials early this month (December).
The Maybach debuted three years ago as a design study at the Tokyo Motor Show.
Maybach components have already been on the road. Mercedes have been testing the limousine's suspension and drive systems concealed within the bodywork of modified test cars for what the car maker calls "some considerable time."
First deliveries of the production car will begin at the end of 2002.
"The design study of October 1997 has led to one of the most ambitious development projects in the entire automobile industry," says Professor Jurgen Hubbert, the Daimler-Chrysler AG Board of Management member responsible for Mercedes-Benz passenger cars and smart cars.
The Mercedes-Benz Maybach continues the tradition of luxury saloons bearing the three-pointed star while pointing the way to the future with numerous technical innovations.
Its double name pays homage to a designer of genius, says Hubbert. It honours Mercedes' inspired chief designer Wilhelm Maybach (1846-1929), who was for may years a close friend and companion of Gottlieb Daimler. "The world is indebted to Maybach for many automotive engineering inventions, and the first Mercedes is acknowledged to have been his brainchild."
The new car will be tailor-made according to each customer's requirements.
The top variant of the Mercedes-Benz Maybach will have an overall length of approximately six metres and offer every imaginable comfort and refinement - from a complete business package to innovative entertainment systems. On request Mercedes-Benz will also supply the car with a shorter wheelbase.
Customers will be able to configure their Mercedes-Benz Maybach to their individual requirements with respect to materials, colours, appointments and technical features, assisted by engineers and designers, in a new building which is under construction at the Sindelfingen factory. Each example of this luxury limousine will therefore be an exclusive and thoroughly unique specimen, says Hubbert.
The car's technical highlights include a newly-developed, particularly powerful bi-turbocharged V12 engine, whose practical trials have also already begun. The car also has an air suspension system which has been specifically developed to provide maximum comfort. Mercedes says the Maybach will also set new standards in noise and climatic comfort.
Production begins during the second half of 2002 at Sindelfingen, where new production facilities akin to a custom shop are being installed specifically for the Mercedes-Benz Maybach.