DaimlerChrysler may cut the number of Maybach outlets in the United States.
Maybach's 70 U.S. dealers sold just 152 vehicles in 2005.
"It makes sense from a resource point of view to ask yourself if we have the right setup," says Dieter Zetsche, chairman of DaimlerChrysler and the Mercedes Car Group.
Maybach's main competitor, Rolls-Royce, sold 382 units in the U.S. in 2005 and has only 29 dealerships. Maybach sold 244 units in the U.S. in 2004.
Zetsche admits the ultra-luxury segment has "not developed the way all the participants thought it would."
When Mercedes-Benz originally envisioned Maybach, executives said they expected to sell 1,000 cars a year and at least 400 annually in the United States. Maybach is built on the former S class platform.
Zetsche says DaimlerChrysler established Maybach to prove that its engineers could build the best luxury car in the world, not to gain big market share.
"We have a good share -- more than one third of the segment,"he says.
Zetsche says it would not make sense for DaimlerChrysler to take Maybach downmarket the way Bentley did with the Continental GT. That territory belongs to the Mercedes-Benz brand, he says.
Paul Halata, CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA, would not give a Maybach sales goal. But Halata admitted that when Maybach was being planned, there was a more optimistic view of the super-luxury market. A study is under way and "we will do what is appropriate," says Halata.
Maybach dealers on average invested $500,000 for a commissioning center for the brand where customers design their individualized car. Were Mercedes-Benz to cut dealers, it has no plans to compensate them for their investment, Halata says.
He envisions dealers using the commissioning centers more to promote cars built to individual specifications. Details are being worked out and could include using the centers for AMG high performance products, as well.
Halata hasn't named a replacement for a Maybach marketing manager. Wayne Killen left the post last year to take a job at Mitsubishi.