"We've come to the conclusion that it is better to cut our losses with Maybach than to continue into an uncertain future with a brand that has failed to live up to original sales expectations," one insider told AutoWeek. "Plans are already in place to fill the void left by the axing of the Maybach 57 and 62 with the next-generation S-class, which will be offered in three wheelbase variations, including a top-of-the-range S600 Pullman."
Moves to push Mercedes-Benz further up-market into the segment follows an internal marketing study which came to the conclusion that it has more potential to succeed in the upper luxury segment against competition from the likes of Bentley and Rolls-Royce than Maybach, which despite being revered at home in Germany failed to gain traction in key world markets.
"We held extensive discussions internally about which way would promise the greatest success in the luxury segment, and we came to the conclusion that the sales chances for the Mercedes brand were better than that of Maybach," Zetsche told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
"It would not be sensible to develop a successor model for the current Maybach," he added, according to an excerpt of the interview, which will be published in the German daily on Saturday.
Automotive News estimates that 44 Maybachs have been sold in the United States this year through October.
Prices for the 2011 Maybach line started at $375,250 for the 57, excluding a $2,750 delivery fee, and topped $1.38 million for Laundaulet model.
Despite the plan to dump Maybach, both the existing 57 and 62 will be produced through to early 2013, at which point the fifth-generation S-class is due to be introduced. "There is no sense producing beyond this date, as there will no longer be any production synergies," said an Autoweek source.
The Maybach brand was resurrected by Mercedes-Benz in 2002 following its failure to purchase Rolls-Royce and Bentley from then owner Vickers after being outbid by Volkswagen, which then ceded control of Rolls-Royce to BMW.
The original Maybach models, the 57 and 62, were named after their respective lengths of 5735 mm and 6170 mm. Both were based around stretched underpinnings of then already superceded third-generation S-class first introduced in 1991.
A recent proposal to involve Aston Martin in the development of future Maybach models was abandoned in early 2011.
Reuters contributed to this report