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Maybach goes solo with special agents

Mercedes-Benz will bypass its dealer network by using 'special agents' to sell the new Maybach range from its launch at the end of the year. The carmaker plans to appoint highly trained personal liaison officers to handle the new super limousine rather than use its established automotive retailers. They will be supported by a team of service specialists with a dozen engineers on national standby.

Cars will be sold through a 'virtual' showroom, but prospects can still visit one of the new Mercedes-Benz brand centres to organise a meeting with the liaison agents. The initiative comes from Mercedes' decision to reinstate the Maybach name as a separate brand.

“We are not snubbing dealers. But we do not see the need for additional operating points,” says a Mercedes-Benz spokesman. The manufacturer says it has already taken several hundred pre-orders. But the news of a retailer sidestep has sparked new industry concern.

Alan Pulham, director of the franchised division of the RMI, is warning that Mercedes-Benz runs the risk of forcing its brands to compete. He says franchise dealers could try to win over Maybach prospects when they enter the showroom to make first contact.

He adds: “Mercedes-Benz might think it knows who the Maybach customers are, but a number of luxury cars are bought on impulse by people who have either inherited or won money. It's disappointing that this is the way Mercedes-Benz wants to sell cars. It is important to display a product in the theatrical environment of the showroom.”

Meanwhile Mercedes-Benz USA is insisting on a separate dealer agreement and a minimum investment of $400,000 (£273,500) to sell the super-luxury limousine. About 83 US dealers have signed up as Maybach retailers - some, controversially, in exclusive Mercedes-Benz territories.

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